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“Terror threats factored into Navy’s preparations”

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“Terrorism from the sea and terrorism at sea are now present day realities”

Stressing that besides conventional challenges and geopolitical forces, terrorism from the sea and terrorism at sea were now present-day realities, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma on Tuesday said one of the “core concerns” of the maritime force was the coalescing of the “State” with “non-State” entities.

Responding to a query about the Navy’s preparation to take on a 26/11 type terror attack, particularly in the wake of recent disclosures that the Lashkar-e-Taiba had reactivated its maritime wing, Admiral Verma said such threats had been factored in the preparations of the Navy.

Addressing his farewell press conference as he nears the end of his three-year tenure as Chief of the Naval Staff this month-end, Admiral Verma said coastal security efforts all along the 7,500-km coastline had incorporated local fishing communities as the “eyes and ears” of the country’s coastal security matrix.

About taking on a 26/11-type terror strike, Admiral Verma said: “There will always remain uncertainties and adversaries but we intend to ensure that the levels of asymmetry are never such that they encourage adventurism.”

“Our strategy intends to ensure that there is no schism between the challenges we face and our capabilities to respond to them,” he added.

On the challenges of the changing operating environment with respect to piracy, Admiral Verma said the “plague” of piracy around Indian island territories and the Gulf of Aden had been arrested to a significant extent.

“The success rate of piracy has dropped from 38 per cent in 2008 to approximately 11 per cent till 2011 and even further in 2012. Our anti-piracy operations have, thus far, been coordinated trilaterally with the Chinese and Japanese, and in the near future this initiative could include the South Korean navy,” he said. Over 2,100 merchantmen have been escorted by Indian Navy ships and 40 piracy attempts have been averted, he added.

Noting that “proactive and effective action” by the Navy and the Coast Guard have neutralised pirate ships operating in the region, the Navy chief said that over the past year, there had not been a single incident of piracy within 300 nautical miles of the country’s island territories on the West coast.

Asked about the American plans to re-balance the Asia Pacific region by deployment of naval warships, the Navy Chief said: “Our primary area of interest extends from the Malacca Straits to the Gulf on the west and down south up to the Cape of Good Hope. This is the area where we would like to do much more than what we are doing today.”

“Pacific and South China Sea are of concern to the global community but in terms of actual deployments on our side, it is not on the cards as I think there is a lot of unfinished business as far as IOR [Indian Ocean Region] is concerned,” he added.

Record number of ships

A record number of 15 ships had been commissioned into the Navy over the past three years, which included the three Shivalik class stealth frigates – Shivalik, Satpura and Sahyadri – two fleet tankers, Deepak and Shakti, he said.

The Navy Chief said that given India’s unequivocal “no-first use commitment,” a retaliatory strike capability that was credible and invulnerable remains an imperative. He said that maritime and nuclear doctrines would be aligned to ensure that “our nuclear insurance comes from the sea.”

Referring to the indigenous warship building programme, Admiral Verma said it was poised to touch new heights with 43 warships currently under construction in the country’s shipyards.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 6:59:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/terror-threats-factored-into-navys-preparations/article3739695.ece

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