Avoidance of open military conflict will be a national priority : Maritime Experts

Vice admiral says maritime border's security is responsibility of police

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | October 24, 2011



“India’s Maritime Borders lie 12 nautical miles further seawards and the onus of responsibility for security of this area lies on the police” said vice admiral Pradeep Chauhan, AVSM, VSM, chief of Staff – western naval command, while delivering his talk on future challenges to 'India's Maritime Security' at the Observer Research Foundation, Mumbai, last week.

Noting that responsibilities have to be clearly pointed out vice admiral said in truth, majesty of Indian laws applies right up to 12 nautical miles into the sea. Therefore, who is responsible for maintenance of law in this area has to be crystal clear. “It is not the coast guard or the Indian Navy who is responsible for security of these 12 nautical miles but  the police”  (One nautical mile=1.852 kms.

Underling the fact that entire security of India has substantial maritime dimensions Chauhan said that as far as maritime diplomacy is concerned Indonesia remains most critical areas. Much of India’ s effort will be concentrated in that part.

While army worries about threats to the nation, navy is concerned with its interests. With long and daunting land borders extending to nearly 16,000 kms and nearly 1,725 kms of India’s land borders disputed mainly due to successive governments’ ability to handle hard power, India’s coastline of nearly 7,516 kms too poses many challenges like its land borders. For the Indian Navy the concern is not this 7,516 kms of coastline but India’s Maritime Borders  that lie further 12 nautical miles seawards.

The vice admiral while further expressing his concerns on difference of economics of trade between gas and oil pipelines said that so far no think tank in India has come out with any seminal study on economics of oil pipelines  to support or debunk  currently floating theories where longest oil  pipelines ever will extend upto 4,000 kilometers  with several pumping stations on flat lands.

Pointing that in future Indian Navy will need to constructively contribute to  its coastal security in  a meaningful manner experts at the  talk felt that the navy believes that  due to Pakistan’s continental mindset  it has not put in place a true maritime strategy. Like China which is emerging as a great player, Pakistan functions as a proxy player.

On constructive engagement the experts said that while Indian government plays focused games at the level of Operational Art, China plays at the strategic table. “In the next ten years, avoidance of open military conflict will be a national priority.  Preparing for all eventualities ranging from economic competition to military conflict will be complimentary priority. The navy will need to constructively contribute to this in a meaningful manner.”

Answering a question on security measures adopted post 26/11 Chauhan said “while significant  improvement has taken place between coordination and synergy between, police, customs, coast guard, navy, immigration and ports it does not  mean that we are there but we are much ahead to where we were”.

“Different states have different sensitivities where sharing of information is concerned. The joint operation centre set up post 26/11 now is functioning jointly. While more resources at hand does not mean that such incidents will not happen at all  but  chances of such incidents happening will reduce dramatically” the experts felt.

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