The Indian Navy’s Western Fleet is to launch a series of annual theater-level naval exercises in Mumbai in January, 2018. In aircraft that lasted more than a month, surface warships and submarines divided into red and blue forces emulate the naval battle game, refine their strategy by bringing them platforms to a higher level of preparation. Nothing unusual is that after less than a month, these exercises will be operated on the east coast, from Vizag, from the Eastern Fleet’s warships, aircraft and submarines from the mainland to the Andaman and Nicobar islands and the Malacca Straits. This is the first time Navy has been activating both the commands. From next year, naval officials say that simultaneous maritime war games in the twin front will be ideal.
It will be a direct response to China’s ramped up naval presence in the Indian Ocean region. This year, 17 Chinese warships were deployed. These incidents, which were seen in conjunction with the acquisition of China’s Gwadar port in 2013, fade the distinction between China aimed Eastern Naval command and Pakistan aimed Eastern Naval command.
This September, China has also completed its seventh submarine deployment in Indian Ocean region. It is speculated that, it will deploy its eighth submarine next year. As per the statement of G Parthasarathy, former Indian high commissioner, “India has never claimed the Indian Ocean as ‘India’s ocean’ but China has claimed the bulk of South China as ‘China’s Sea’, and now has a full-fledged military base in Djibouti and is significantly strengthening Pakistan’s Navy with eight submarines.”
Also, senior naval officer said, “If push comes to shove, we’ve got to be prepared.” The Indian and Chinese militaries faceoff of Dokalam raised this situation. As per the analysts, the military face off between India and Pakistan military at Dokalam confirmed the turbulent future of the two countries relations. China’s policy of $1 trillion Belt and Road initiative and New Delhi’s objection over it is seen as the main reason for reticence about the quadrilateral initiative.
The three defence services Army, Air Force, and Navy have validated new war plans and have hastened their small and medium-term defense schemes to increase the ‘disorganized’ posture against China, which was earlier given in the instructions of the Defense Minister in 2010. The armed forces, especially the army, have been asked for significant ammunition deficiency by 2018.
Harsh V. Pant, head of Observer Research Foundation said, “The Indian Army is gearing up to face the Chinese challenge in coming years.” He added, “More than its predecessors, the Modi government seems to have no hesitation in standing up to China, so the civilian and military in India now seem to be on the same page. India’s role in the Quad will only be applicable if its own postures towards regional security has some credibility.”
Navy officials say that quad is feeling more intensely in the maritime area. In this July, following the trilogy Malabar naval exercises involving American, Japan and India in the Bay of Bengal, there was a small Goa in October, in which Japanese and Indian naval anti-submarine war aircraft were involved.
An ambitious plan MBD to counter China’s maritime presence in the IOR has also been unveiled by India. MBD will see an Indian warship or aircraft present at every point of the IOR-an area over five times India’s 2.3 million square kilometres to keep an eye on China’s presence.