Indian Ocean Region

You are here

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Faud asked: Can you explain the growing numbers of foreign forces in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean?

    Ruchita Beri replies: The escalation in the number of piracy attacks in recent years has increased the presence of foreign navies in the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean Region. In 2008, recognising the growing danger posed to international shipping by pirates, the UN Security Council passed several resolutions to allow countries to send warships to the region. Several countries, including the United States, members of the European Union, Japan, China, Russia, Iran, United Kingdom and India have deployed warships in the region to secure the Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs). Collective efforts include deployments by the European Union and the multinational coalition task force, Combined Task Force (CTF 151) and the CTF -150. CTF 151 was established in January 2009 with a special mandate to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the eastern coast of Somalia. While the CTF 150, established in 2001 at the beginning of US launched War on Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom), has a wider mandate and conducts maritime security operations not just in the Gulf of Aden but also the in Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The Indian Navy, deployed in the Gulf of Aden since 2008, has recently crossed the milestone of escorting 1000 ships through piracy infested waters.

    Ankur asked: How are we going to deal with a rising PLAN in the Indian ocean?

    Pankaj Kumar Jha replies: If we analyse the modernisation trends of PLAN in the last five years, it is clear that the stress is more on smart frigates, anti-ship missiles, nuclear submarines and nuclear submarines with ballistic missile launch capability. These acquisitions are meant for sea denial and creating deterrence.

    The Indian plan of action is two pronged. Firstly, India is trying to strengthen multilateral forums like Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) to create common consensus on maritime issues, thereby creating a cooperative security framework. At the same time it is also engaging important players through biennial liaison meetings like MILAN, in which more than 16 navies participated last year. Secondly, India is trying to enhance its maritime capabilities through induction of stealth frigates, a new aircraft carrier and the naval version of Brahmos. Lately, India successfully test-fired Brahmos on a moving vessel.

    India’s Maritime Strategy Doctrine of 2009 has listed the nine sea lanes of communication as vital maritime interests and areas of influence. Also, naval cooperation with countries like Oman, South Africa, Maldives and Indonesia, as well as exercises in South China Sea show that India has a strategic plan of action in place.

    Kovid Kumar asked: How much Japan’s national interest affects the Indian Ocean?

    Rajaram Panda replies: Peace and tranquillity at sea is of utmost importance for Japan as it is a maritime nation. Maritime security, therefore, is intrinsically connected with Japan’s economic lifeline. Any disruption in the maritime traffic will drastically affect Japan’s economy. Being a resource deficient country, no other country in the East Asian region is more dependent than Japan on maritime transport for sourcing critical raw materials and exporting manufactured goods. In particular, the Strait of Malacca is the main passage between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea and therefore a vital lifeline for Japan’s international trade. As much as 33 per cent of international trade and 50 per cent of the world’s oil pass through the Strait of Malacca and the Strait of Hormuz. Also 90 per cent of Japan’s oil requirements come from the Persian Gulf. Because of Constitutional limitations, Japan’s naval role to tackle issues of piracy and maritime terrorism and securing the SLOC is limited. Japan, therefore, sees India as a strategic asset for naval cooperation. Multilateral naval exercises are also important for Japan. Seen from this perspective, Indian Ocean in Japan’s national interests is hugely important.