Top commanders of the Indian Navy will extensively deliberate on the evolving maritime security architecture in the region and the border row with China in eastern Ladakh at a three-day conclave beginning Wednesday, officials said.
A major focus of the conclave will be to review the Indian Navy's operational readiness as well as issues relating to India's security interests in the Indo-Pacific, a region where China has been rapidly expanding its military presence, they said.
The Indian Navy has deployed a range of its frontline warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean region to send a clear message to China following escalation of the border dispute. "The conference assumes greater significance in the backdrop of recent events on our northern borders, coupled with the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19," the Indian Navy said in a statement.
The naval commanders would also deliberate on ensuring tri-services synergy as well as functional reorganisation within the Navy to improve efficiency, it said, adding the conference would also discuss the larger security imperatives in the Indo-Pacific. The Navy said the conference would provide the higher naval leadership a forum to discuss conduct of operations, sustenance and maintenance of assets, procurement issues, infrastructure development and human resource management within the ambit of the "new normal" resulted by the pandemic.
"The Chief of the Naval Staff, with the commanders-in-chief, will review major operational, materiel, logistics, human resource, training and administrative activities undertaken during the year and deliberate upon the course to be steered in the future.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to address the conference on Wednesday. It is the first naval commanders' conference since the institution of Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
"The conference would discuss upon the ways to optimise joint planning structures, tri-service synergy, and operational readiness, as also functional reorganisation within the Indian Navy to improve efficiency," the Navy said. Officials said all possible security challenges that the country may face including from China and Pakistan in the Indian Ocean Region will be deliberated upon at length at the conclave, they added.
The Indian Ocean, considered the backyard of the Indian Navy, is critical to India's strategic interests. Over the years, the region has witnessed increasing Chinese presence. China has constructed the deep-sea Gwadar Port in southern Pakistan and a naval base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
In the last few weeks, the Navy has significantly expanded its deployment in the Indian Ocean Region, positioning a plethora of warships and submarines following the Galwan Valley clash with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details. According to an American intelligence report, the number of casualties on the Chinese side was 35.
Over the years, the Indian Navy's focus has been on enhancing combat efficiency and improving operational readiness and these issues will be discussed in detail, the officials said. Measures to ensure safety, continued training, and checks and balances on crew proficiency aboard the front-line warships will also be reviewed, they said.