Indian Ocean witnesses great power rivalry, basing facilities to China complicates it further: Vice Chief Navy

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: While the Indian Ocean region has become vulnerable to new unconventional threats and is witnessing great power rivalry, the basing facilities acquired by China in the region have further complicated the situation, says Indian Navy’s Vice Chief.

Vice Admiral SN Ghormade said on Saturday, “Indian Ocean Region is witnessing the great power rivalry and situation has been complicated with China having been provided basing facilities at Djibouti, Pakistan, Sri lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar.”

The Vice Chief was speaking on leveraging the military powers at the first Indraprastha Grand Strategy Conference by New Delhi based think tank Indian futures.

What has added to the vulnerabilities are piracy, gun running, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, pollution, port security, smuggling, international terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction added Vice Admiral Ghormade.  

Speaking on the roles, hard power and soft power of the maritime forces Ghormade pointed to the increased freedom of navigation operations in the south China Sea. “Naval forces can be effectively utilized for political signaling and posturing. The increase in freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea by the US Navy and its allies is an apt example.”

There are various risks at sea as. “Non-adherence to rules based on international order and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, maritime militia, quest for hydrocarbons, and competing EEZ Claims have a risk of manifesting into flashpoints and causing instability.”

The Vice Chief pointed out that China’s enhanced capabilities in the domain of space and cyber will increase its battle space transparency and provide information dominance.

In the Indian Ocean region resources are likely to be a primary driver for contested maritime claims that could lead to conflict. Pressures of population, regional interference, ethnic strife, scarce natural resources, border disputes and weak littoral governments are likely to contribute to instability in the region.

As per Vice Chief, well being, economic prosperity and the nation is the unstated Grand Strategy.

Leveraging Military power is one of the most important traits of the apex leadership and dimension of statecraft. “Military power is not only leveraged for military crises but for various other contingencies such as Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) Efforts, Evacuation of Indian Diaspora and assistance required to civilian authorities.” he said.

Sea power is a facilitator of Economic power, he said. “We must remember the 70, 80, 90 rule. &0 percent of the ocean surface is ocean surface, 80 percent of the world population lives within 200 kilometer distance from the oceans and 90 percent of Global Trade touches ocean at one point or the other and 100 percent of global information traffic passes through ocean,” Ghormade said.

Safe and Secure maritime environment is prerequisite to nurture our strategic interests and strong armed force is requisite for peace and stability

Highlighting the soft power and benign role of the Indian Navy the Vice Chief of Naval Staff said, “during the first break of pandemic operation Samudra Setu was launched to provide medical succor and repatriate citizens in the pandemic. Ships traversed 23000 km to evacuate 3993 Indians.”

“In end April Second wave put tremendous pressure on medical infra thus operation Samudra Setu-II was launched to augment mission for meeting Oxygen Requirement. 10 ships transported 1150 Metric tons of medical equipment and good including the Oxygen Cylinders, Empty cylinders, Oxymeters, concentrators, brought from across the expanse of Indian Ocean was resounding success.” he added.