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Chinmay Mittal asked: What is the difference between joint naval exercises and joint naval patrolling?

Abhay Kumar Singh replies: Joint naval exercises and joint naval patrols are maritime activities conducted within the wider ambit of naval diplomacy. Irrespective of their size and political persuasion of their governments, navies engage in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy for both competitive and collaborative purposes. These maritime engagements are aimed at strengthening international cooperation with friendly countries, on the one hand, and signalling capability and intent to deter potential adversaries, on the other. The broad objectives of naval diplomacy are to strengthen political and defence relations with friendly states, portray credible defence postures and capability, and to reinforce maritime security and promote regional and global security.

Joint naval exercises among the friendly navies aim to project capabilities, hone operational skills, imbibe best practices and procedures, and enable mutual doctrinal learning. In addition, joint exercises are used as a demonstration of close strategic relation among participating countries and also for political signalling. Joint exercises could be bilateral or multilateral. Nature of activities to be conducted within these joint exercises and size of participating forces are pre-decided through preliminary meetings at staff level. Broad theme of these joint exercises could range from addressing broader issues of maritime security concern, viz. piracy or humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) to issues related to maritime warfare. Indian Navy has institutional arrangements with the navies of USA, UK, Russia, Japan, France, Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, and Oman for regular joint exercises. In addition, Indian naval ships during port visits regularly conduct joint exercises with the navies of the host countries. Indian Coast Guard also conducts such joint exercises with other friendly coast guards in the region.

On the other hand, joint naval patrolling is a cooperative operational deployment of navies for addressing common maritime threats or challenges. These threats and challenges flow from one area to another due to fluidity of maritime domain and require inclusive and cooperative efforts between the maritime forces of the nations concerned. For example, piracy in the Gulf of Aden has led to cooperative deployment of many navies in the world for providing security to the merchant ships transiting the area. This cooperative arrangement of joint and coordinated patrolling has led to significant reduction of threat from piracy. Another example of joint patrolling against maritime crimes, viz. drug smuggling, human trafficking, illegal fishing, poaching are being conducted in various maritime areas across the globe. The Indian Navy conducts joint patrolling with the navies of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal.

Posted on May 03, 2017

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