Need to enhance cooperation to counter drug trafficking: Sri Lankan Naval Commander

Colombo to soon post a Liaison Officer at Navy’s information fusion centre in Gurugram

Updated - November 13, 2021 07:45 pm IST

Published - November 13, 2021 07:38 pm IST - NEW DELHI

COAS Gen. M.M. Naravane (left) with Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne (right) during his visit to Sri Lanka. File

COAS Gen. M.M. Naravane (left) with Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne (right) during his visit to Sri Lanka. File

A major concern for Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean Region is narcotics trafficking and we have discussed ways to enhance cooperation for information and asset sharing with regional partners at the Goa Maritime Conclave, according to Commander of Sri Lankan Navy Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne.

“I have discussed the matter with Adm. Karambir Singh and regional Navy Chiefs including the Maldives, Madagascar and Seychelles. We discussed how to enhance sharing of information and assets so that we can at least minimise drug trafficking. That’s my main concern here,” Vice Admiral Ulugetenne told The Hindu on the sidelines of the third edition of the conclave held from November 7 to 9. “For preventing drugs, what we need is timely information and sometimes maybe sharing assets.”

On naval cooperation with India, Vice Admiral Ulugetenne said the Indian Navy was also supporting them in terms of training and providing assets. “Most of our naval officers are trained in India, including myself. From my Sub Lieutenant to NDC [National Defence College] days, I have been trained in India. Indian Navy supports us enormously,” he said.

Sri Lanka will soon post an International Liaison Officer (ILO) at the Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), he said. “We got the approval from the Government to send one officer to the IFC-IOR but we still have to finalise minor things, logistics. After that we would send the officer.”

The IFC-IOR, located on the premises of the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram, has nine ILOs and three more from IOR countries including Sri Lanka are expected to join very soon, officials said.

Major focus areas

At the GMC which brings together Navy Chiefs and Heads of Maritime Agencies of IOR countries, information sharing and capability development have emerged as major focus areas and India has offered its expertise to other countries.

We should also take more actionable measures to tackle threats facing the region, said a senior officer of one of the countries at the GMC. We need real time intelligence and also assets and regional cooperation is critical, he said.

The GMC 2021 also saw the declaration of “Common Maritime Priorities”, which one official said details actionable points for all the Navies and maritime agencies to streamline cooperation. Sharing of assets and hardware has been a common idea mooted by several delegations.

Foreign Secretary Harsh V. Shringla referred to India’s focus on information exchange and supply of hardware to maritime neighbours to strengthen their capabilities in his address at the conclave where he said domain awareness is central to any preventive security strategy.

Radar surveillance systems

The coastal radar surveillance systems that India has worked on with Sri Lanka, Mauritius, the Maldives and Seychelles; the India-Bangladesh MoU on coastal radars; information fusion centres and multilateral maritime coordination centres in India, in Abu Dhabi, Seychelles and in Madagascar; and white shipping agreements can improve not only domain awareness but also the security situation, he said.

“We are willing to work with partners in upgrading maritime hardware and software. We have supplied equipment, vessels and aircraft to friends like Vietnam, Mozambique, the Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros, Bangladesh and Myanmar,” Mr. Shringla said.

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