The largest gathering of navies from across the globe will be coming to India for the next edition of Naval Exercise MILAN 2020 which will be off the coast in Vishakhapatnam.
In a written the response given in the Rajya Sabha today by the Minister of State Ministry of Defence, Shripad Naik, 41 countries including Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, South Korea, the US, the UK, Australia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Iran, Sri Lanka, Thailand among others are going to participate.
According to Capt DK Sharma (Retd), Ex-Spokesperson Indian Navy, “Looking at the overall environment in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), there is a need to collaborate with like-minded nations/ navies and make IOR a region of peace rather than of posturing.”
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“The Sea Lines of Communications carry almost 60-80% of the world’s energy and trade both by value and volume through these and hence the need to maintain sanity in the region. The Indian Navy is promoting freedom of navigation and rules-based order, which is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region). The Indian Navy has already been tagged as the first responder and has also been acknowledged as a security provider in the region of the Indian Ocean and beyond,” Sharma explained.
The first edition of the MILAN Exercises was in 1995 when just four countries from the neighbourhood including – Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand participated and the focus was on promoting deeper cooperation in areas like maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR). The exercise did not take place in 2016; India was hosting the International Fleet Review. And has over the years expanded from just four littoral navies to now 41 navies coming for Exercise MILAN 2020.
The focus of such a large number of navies is not only going to help New Delhi improve its maritime cooperation with friendly nations but will also help in interoperability, but will help countries like Sudan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Eritrea, Comoros who will get to interact with major strategic actors in the IOR.
India has been pursuing several initiatives with friendly foreign countries including in IOR through structured interactions in various areas like capacity building, Marine Domain Awareness (MDA), Training etc.