According to an official statement issued by the British High Commission in New Delhi, “Lieutenant Commander Stephen Smith will be based full-time at the Centre.
To further boost cooperation in the maritime domain with India, the UK government has posted their International Liaison Officer (ILO) at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) in Gurugram.
This is in line with the recently launched 2030 Roadmap in May.
According to an official statement issued by the British High Commission in New Delhi, “Lieutenant Commander Stephen Smith will be based full-time at the Centre. After his formal induction as the UK’s ILO at the Centre, he will be working directly with the Indian Armed Forces and fellow liaison officers from partner nations to enhance maritime domain awareness in the region.”
How will this help?
With the two countries keen to work closely in the IOR and wider Indo-Pacific Region, such a cooperation will help. For the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy, this is further going to enhance maritime domain awareness effort.
On the UK’s first ever ILO Lt Cdr Stephen Smith to be posted in India, Admiral Tony Radakin KCB ADC, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, expressed his delight and said, “I am excited at the opportunities this position brings us for closer UK-India collaboration and information sharing.”
Said Gavin Thompson, Defence Adviser at British High Commission, New Delhi “The IFC-IOR is an excellent platform to enable closer engagement and ensure greater sharing of information on vessels of interest.”
Adding, “The appointment of the Liaison Officer forms part of our enhanced maritime partnership to bolster security in the Indian Ocean.”
The armed forces of both countries already enjoy high levels of interoperability. This will be on display when the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, led by one of their largest aircraft carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in India.
What is IFC-IOR?
The centre located in Gurugram uses the Merchant Ship Information System (MSIS) software. This is a collaborative tool for its day-to-day functioning.
After collating input information from various sources, a Comprehensive Operation Picture of the region is developed.
The MSIS allows exchange of information with the partner countries and other multi-national constructs.
The UK also uses a similar system — Maritime Trade Information System (MTIS). This tool displays a maritime picture and also enables other elements of the command and control system.
UK’s Maritime Awareness Capability
It is leading on anti-piracy in the western Indian Ocean region and to tackle the problem is already contributing over £20 million.
The UK’s White Shipping Agreement with India, which enables the information sharing across the IOR is going to help in not only creating maritime awareness but also help in further boosting maritime trade operations knowledge to IFC-IOR.
Jan Thompson, Acting British High Commissioner to India said, “This tangible step will help to enhance our joint capability to tackle shared challenges.”
In support of trade, shared security and values, the UK is committed to becoming the European country with the broadest, most integrated presence in the Indo-Pacific Region .
As has been reported by Financial Express Online earlier, in 2019, the UK had accepted India’s offer to place a liaison officer in the IFC-IOR. Every two years a new Royal Navy officer will be posted at the centre.
The UK Navy is already present in the Western IOR, alongside its presence in India. It has 7 permanent bases in: Nepal, Bahrain, Kenya, Singapore, Brunei, Oman, and the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). According to the official statement of the British High Commission, at any one time 7 ships are deployed to provide security in the Western region of the Indo-Pacific.