Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh on Friday said maritime threats like piracy and drug trafficking have a “trans-national” character, and pitched for harnessing “collective military competency” to mutually learn from the best practices of navies . Addressing the fourth conclave of defence attaches here, he also said the Indian Navy is “committed to enhancing cooperation and engagement with like-minded navies in the Indian Ocean region”. “For seagoing forces, cooperation is a very important word, and the nature of the seas is such that they do not divide but unite and called the highways of connectivity. So, navy by nature operates in a cooperative domain,” Singh said.
He said the vast expanse of the seas and oceans also makes a navy realise that one is not alone here, and, therefore “it becomes part of the naval DNA”. “Then there are various maritime threats and common challenges. Piracy, for example involves attack in one country and cargo perhaps of another. Then there is drug trafficking which we call narco-terrorism, and human trafficking and illegal fishing. these all have a trans-national or inter-regional character,” the Navy chief said.
The Indian Navy is fully seized of its role in maritime cooperation to draw from other navies’ strength or learn from their best practices, he said. The day-long event held at the Constitution Club of India was themed on ‘Enhancing Defence Capabilities Through Cooperation’ and attended by defence attaches or military attaches of various countries. “Navy is committed to enhance cooperation with like-minded navies in the Indian Ocean region, and our cooperation ethos is guided, as articulated by the prime minister, by the 5Ss — Samman (honour), Samvad (dialogue), Sahyog (cooperation), Shanti (peace) and Samriddhi (prosperity),” he said. Singh pitched for having a greater maritime cooperation and leveraging “collective military competency” of the world. “We have to learn from the best practices and joint exercises.
It is not necessary, only one nation has all the competencies. So, we need to work together. Bangladesh Indonesia know a lot about HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief), Sri Lanka has successively tackled terrorism, Seychells and Mauritius have worked on marine ecology and conservation, Myanmar’s indigenous shipbuilding and various other navies in the region,” he said.
So, cooperation is a “big buzzword” for the Indian Navy, he said. “Also, the roadmap for our maritime cooperation is the government of India’s policy. And I think there is no better way to enunciate the Government of India’s policy for maritime cooperation than the acronym which our Prime Minister has given, which is ‘SAGAR’.
It means the seas and the oceans, but it is also an acronym for Security and Growth for All in the Region,” Singh said. “And, our aim therefore is not exclusion, but inclusion,” the Navy chief said. He said the Indian Navy executes maritime cooperation broadly through four methods — constructive engagements such as high-level visits, joint exercises; collaborative efforts such as CORPAT (coordinated patrols); capacity building; and capability enhancement. Also, the principles guiding Indian Navy’s engagements include respect for national and international laws; help build self-sufficiency among partners in the region and aiming to enhance capacity of other navies, he said.