Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 03 December 2021
Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral R. Hari Kumar made a revelation today that in the aftermath of the Ladakh stand-off last year, the Navy forward deployed ships in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), was prepared for any escalation and continued to maintain good domain awareness of movements in the region On being asked about the formation of integrated theatre commands, he said that jointness and integration amongst forces was not something that could happen “in a very short time”.

He referred to the process by the U.S. military that took “almost” 50 years. He hinted that the modalities for the Maritime Theatre Command (MTC) could be finalised by mid-2022. Admiral Kumar, who assumed charge as the 25th CNS on November 30, said. “When there were tensions on our northern borders, our ships were forward deployed. Other ships were ready in case the situation escalated. We had kept their [PRC] ships under close surveillance, which we continue to do even now. Any of their ships coming on deployment, we keep a watch on them. We maintain fairly good maritime domain awareness in our area of responsibility”.

On the rapid expansion of the Chinese Navy in recent years, the CNS remarked that the Indian Navy was a “potent and well-balanced force”, which over a period of time had evolved from a small force of 33 ships to the force of today. “We don’t go into bean counting or develop capabilities in response to particular country. We develop capability based on our maritime interests. Therefore, our planning and preparedness is to ensure on how to preserve our maritime interests.”

The Chinese Navy had been present in the Indian Ocean since 2008 when it began anti-piracy patrols and maintained regular presence in the region. Indian Navy kept track of their deployments and what they did. “There is constant surveillance through our aircraft and our mission based deployments. Their activities and deployments are kept under close watch”.

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