The Indian Navy participated in its maiden exercise with the Bahrain-based multilateral partnership Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) as an associate partner earlier this week. At the India-U.S. 2+2 in April this year, India had announced that it would join the CMF as an associate partner.
“ INS Sunayana participated in the capacity building exercise Operation Southern Readiness conducted by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) at Seychelles from September 24 to 27,” the Navy said in a statement. “This is the maiden participation of an Indian Navy ship in a CMF exercise.”
As part of the interactive sessions attended by representatives of the participating countries, a training lecture on maritime domain awareness was conducted by the Indian Navy, the statement said. “A live demonstration on visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations was also conducted onboard HMS Montrose led by the Seychelles special forces with close support from the Indian naval team,” it added.
The event witnessed by Wavel Ramkalawan, President of Seychelles, and senior officials of member countries of the CMF, the statement said. The joint training exercise was attended by representative delegations from the U.S., Italy, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and ship participation from the U.K., Spain and India.
Joining the CMF is the latest in a series of multilateral engagements by the Indian Navy as part of India’s widening military diplomacy. In July, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Sanjay Mahindru visited the headquarters of the CMF which marked the initiation of the Indian Navy’s “associate support” to the CMF.
As reported by The Hindu earlier, the Indian Navy Liaison Officer posted at the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in Bahrain will function as the point person for cooperation with the CMF.
The CMF is a multi-national naval partnership to promote security, stability and prosperity across approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters, which encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
The 34-nation grouping is commanded by a U.S. Navy Vice Admiral, who also serves as the Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces CENTCOM and U.S. Fifth Fleet. All three commands are co-located at U.S. Naval Support Activity Bahrain. In the immediate neighbourhood, Pakistan is a full member of the CMF.
The CMF comprises three task forces: CTF 150 (maritime security and counter-terrorism), CTF 151 (counter-piracy) and CTF 152 (Arabian Gulf security and cooperation).