The use of oceans, seas and waterways is as old as human existence itself. They have been the medium through which humanity, culture, ideas and trade have travelled across the globe. This would not be a counterintuitive idea given that two-third of the globe is covered with water. It is said that while borders on land divide, the oceans of the world unite. This quality of the oceans brings great significance to all nations, more so to a maritime nation such as ours.
The history of the world is replete with examples of seafaring and maritime nations that progressed and gained ascendancy by powering their national progress through the oceans. It was in the late 19th-early 20th century that Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840 – 1914) articulated the concept of the ‘maritime virtuous cycle’. This comprised three variables: industrial and agricultural production; merchant and naval; and markets. The maritime virtuous cycle operates within these elements with the merchant marine carrying goods to and from trading nations, creating national wealth and engendering national prosperity. As trade expands, the prosperous nation funds and maintains a naval force, which in turn ensures and protects national commerce.
The basic tenets of the maritime virtuous cycle have not changed in the hundred years since it was postulated. However, the maritime environment is very different today. As oceans facilitate access and create the global commons for humanity, being unregulated and unowned they also become the medium of source for threats to national security and prosperity. Historically, this has been well documented – be it the arrival of the Portuguese in the Indian ocean in the late 15th century or the ensuing loss of control of our oceans for the next three hundred years to the present day, when our coastal cities remain vulnerable to a few marauders in a small boat, albeit with support from inimical nations.
With the articulation of the maritime vision of India as SAGAR—Security and Growth for All in the Region—our maritime awakening is indeed well on its way. While we move outwards from our coast to reach out to our maritime neighbours, as we have done for many centuries before colonial rule, the spectrum of challenges our nation faces from the sea has also multiplied.
The Navy Day is celebrated every year on 4 December to commemorate the pivotal role of the Navy in the 1971 war with Pakistan. While this is the commemoration of a military victory at sea, the Navy is and must be seen as much more than a security force. It is a force for nation-building and contributes to strengthening our nation in many ways, in addition to providing a safe and secure maritime environment for the socio-economic prosperity of our citizens.
Oft repeated facts about our maritime domain are that India has a coastline of about 7,500 km with more than 1,100 islands and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of over 2 million sq km with a vast seabed area that is rich in resources. Over 97 per cent of our national trade is carried by sea routes – this in itself calls for a modern, mission-capable and forward-deployed Navy.
The manner in which the Navy contributes to both the hard and soft power of our nation is best understood by an examination of the various roles of the Navy. In simple terms, the Indian Navy and indeed most navies of the world have four predominant roles: Military, Diplomatic, Constabulary and Benign. While the military role is easily seen and understood, the latter three roles are as important and are a significant measure of national power.
It is said that it takes a lifetime to build a Navy. And our naval planners have always created a force structure keeping in mind the roles the Navy will be called upon to perform in service to the nation. Today, the Indian Navy is the preeminent element of our national diplomatic outreach in the Indo-Pacific Region, enabling and supporting the amalgamation of like-minded nations facilitating a convergence of ideas on maritime security and national prosperity. With regard to the constabulary role, the Indian Navy is the agency tasked with coordinating national coastal defence and has also been at the forefront of providing constabulary support to our friendly maritime nations through coordinated patrols and EEZ patrols, on request. Thus, not only does the Navy keep our own maritime environment safe, it also extends the umbrella of security to other maritime nations.
The benign role of the Navy has been in the news in the recent past, with Operation Samudra Setu, bringing home many thousands of our stranded citizens when the world was in lockdown as the pandemic raged incessantly. With Operation Sagar, the Navy also reached out as a nation to maritime neighbours and extended a helping hand to their own national efforts in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. The Navy’s will, cooperative posture and national outreach have earned the nation and the Navy the rightful sobriquets of ‘Preferred Security Partner’ and ‘First Responder’ in our maritime neighbourhood.
The contribution of the Indian Navy in nation-building can be expressed in more tangible terms too. The Navy today is a force comprising over 90,000 men and women in uniform and supporting staff. The Indian Navy, therefore, provides the opportunity to our citizens to serve the nation with pride, thus creating generations of skilled and disciplined men and women who continue to maintain and uphold high professional and moral ideals that reflect the ethos of the Navy.
As mentioned earlier, it takes a lifetime to build a Navy and this where the Indian Navy has been a most significant contributor to nation-building through shipbuilding. Even a cursory look at the maritime nations in the world will reveal that shipbuilding is the backbone of a nation’s maritime strength. This significance did not escape our naval planners who have, since Independence, focussed on indigenous shipbuilding to build our navy. Today, the Indian Navy is proud to be a ‘builder’s navy’ rather than a ‘buyer’s navy’. The link of shipbuilding with nation-building is not as tenuous as would be believed. As a fully mission-capable navy, the Navy’s shipbuilding efforts are focused on indigenous shipbuilders. More than 60 percent of the Navy’s budget is reserved for creation of assets and almost 70 percent of this is spent on indigenous shipbuilders—who in turn create an ecosystem of smaller industrial enterprises. Thus, the Indian Navy’s focus on indigenous shipbuilding spurs economic growth, engenders industrial skilling and creates strategic outcomes by sharing shipbuilding capacity with our friendly maritime neighbours.
The Indian Navy comprises a patriotic, motivated and capable cross-section of our nation’s youth and is cognisant of the nation’s faith in the Service. The investment of national resources in the Navy is significant and the Navy remains committed to plough back this investment to the maximum extent to the nation. The Indian Navy stands prepared and willing to rise to the nation’s defence no matter the cost, and to deliver help and support to our citizens across our entire maritime domain. While the oceans span outwards from our shores, the Navy not only keeps a firm eye on the maritime environment but has always been ready and willing to contribute to nation-building in the aftermath of calamities.
On the occasion of Navy Day 2020, the Indian Navy rededicates itself to the service of the nation and I conclude with the Vedic expression ‘Sham No Varunah’—may the Lord of the Seas be auspicious unto us—a reminder of our rich maritime heritage.
Commodore Susheel Menon is a serving Indian naval officer presently posted at Naval Headquarters and has interests in geopolitics and maritime strategy. The contents of this article are the personal views of the author and do not represent official position of the Indian Navy or the Government of India.
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INDIAN ARMY CONDUCTS RAIL TRIALS ON DEDICATED FREIGHT CORRIDOR
The recently developed “Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC)” by the Indian Railways provides faster movement of freight across the Country. The Indian Army, on Monday, conducted a successful trial by moving a military train loaded with vehicles and equipment from New Rewari to New Phulera validating the efficacy of the DFC. The intricate and synchronised coordination by the Indian Army with Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL) and Indian Railways will significantly enhance the mobilisation capability of the Armed Forces. These trials were part of the “Whole of the Nation Approach” for optimising national resources and achieve seamless synergy among various ministries and departments.
Interactions by the Indian Army with all stakeholders including DFCCIL and Indian Railways will now assist in leveraging the DFC and allied infrastructure into the mobilisation matrix of Armed Forces. Development of infrastructure at certain locations to support mobilisation and trials to validate move of defence owned rolling stock on Roll On-Roll Off (RO-RO) service is being formalised and modalities are being evolved. These trials herald the first step in this process to pave the way for enhancing the operational readiness of the Armed Forces. This initiative would set in place processes to ensure that military requirements are dovetailed in the national infrastructure development at the planning stage itself.
NORTHERN ARMY COMMANDER FELICITATES ‘VEER NARIS’ AND WAR HEROES OF 1971 INDIA-PAK WAR
NEW DELHI: Lt Gen YK Joshi, GOC-in-C, Northern Command laid a wreath to Swarnim Vijay Mashaal and paid tributes to fallen heroes at the Warrior’s Grove War Memorial, Crossed Swords Division, Akhnoor as a part of Swarnim Vijay Varsh celebrations. The Army Commander accompanied by Lt Gen MV Suchindra Kumar, GOC White Knight Corps was briefed on the saga and valour of gallant soldiers of Indian Armed Forces during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. A documentary on the 1971 Indo-Pak War was screened for the audience.
The General officer felicitated Veer Naris and war heroes of the 1971 Indo Pak war at Akhnoor. The GOC-in-C, a war hero and Vir Chakra awardee, appreciated the veterans for their invaluable services for the motherland. He also expressed deep gratitude for the sacrifices of the Veer Naris. Lt Gen YK Joshi, GOC-in-C, Northern Command interacted with all veterans and Veer Naris following Covid protocol. He expressed gratitude and acknowledged the contributions of the populace of Jammu & Kasmir who have played a pivotal role during various operations. He assured Veer Naris and veterans of full support at all times as was extended during the Covid pandemic. He motivated them to take maximum benefits from the facilities rendered by the Indian Army at their doorstep including Covid Care Facilities, Covid vaccination, Covid preventive measures, and government schemes, etc.
RAFAEL’S BNET SDR COMMUNICATION SELECTED BY ASIAN AIR FORCE
Yoav Wermuth, head of Rafael’s C3I directorate, said that this new contract strengthens its position as a major supplier of aerial communication systems.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has been selected by an Asian Air Force to equip its fleet of aircraft with the BNET-AR communication solution. The BNET Family of SDR provides a robust voice and data-link solution and supports simultaneous services of data, voice, and video services with multiple auto relays. The BNET is operational and combat-proven with a number of air forces around the world, featuring a unique, patented software-defined radio and network architecture, delivering wide-band communications with low delay and reliable connectivity.
The variant that will be supplied is the BNET-AR, a modular multi-band SDR for airborne platforms, integrated onboard fighters and helicopters as well as Ground Control Stations equipped with the same BNET-AR, enabling net-centric operations and real-time situation awareness. The BNET Family is a Spectrum-Aware SDR — utilising the spectral arena of the battlefield to the fullest in a cognitive way, thus addressing the challenges of the modern battlefield (e.g. limited spectrum, connecting multiple sensors and shooters, etc). All this is achieved by BNET-patented technology — Multi-Channel Reception (MCR), which enables it to receive and analyse information from numerous frequency channels, simultaneously, using a single RF head. VP Yoav Wermuth, head of Rafael’s C3I directorate said, “This new contract strengthens our position as a major supplier of aerial communication systems as vital enablers, required to be agile, allow fast deployment, be highly scalable, and remain robust in the face of the chaos of battle, all the while operating under constant jamming and cyber-attacks”.
TRIBUTES PAID TO THE BRAVEHEARTS ON ‘SWARNIM VIJAY VARSH’ CELEBRATIONS
The ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Mashaal’, symbolic of India’s 1971 war victory over Pakistan, reaches Kashmir Valley, given a grand reception at Wuzur.
The ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Mashaal’, symbolic of India’s 1971 War Victory over Pakistan has reached the valley, was given a grand reception at Wuzur. To commemorate 50 years of India’s victory over Pakistan in the epic war of 1971, on 16 December 2020, Prime Minister lit the ‘Swarnim Vijay Mashaal’ from the hallowed and the eternal flame of the National War Memorial that marked the commencement of this Golden Jubilee Year. Four such ‘Mashaal’ travelled in the four cardinal directions, reaching the remotest corners of the nation to include villages of our valiant and intrepid warriors who participated in the war and received PVCs and MVCs for their gallant actions. Today, one of these ‘Mashaal’ entered our beautiful Kashmir valley through the newly constructed Navyug Tunnel and was received by Brigadier Vivek Singh Thakur, Commander 2 Sector Rashtriya Rifles at the northern portal of the tunnel.
The presence of 1971 War Veterans, Veer Narees and ESMs during the event made it all the more memorable and magnificent. Carrying of the Mashaal by these esteemed guests during the event added all the more glory to this sacred torch. Hundreds of school children from Army Goodwill Schools of Wuzur and Behibagh, dressed in saffron, white and green attires symbolising our national flag, marching to the beat of an impeccably turned out Military band playing martial tunes, left everyone witnessing this splendid event in awe. The grand reception of the Mashaal was followed by a very solemn ceremony held at Wuzur Garrison to pay homage to the fallen heroes of that war and to remember the sacrifice they made in honour of their beloved motherland.
The ceremony is being conducted with full military honours resulted in high emotions running through the crowd like never before, swelling their hearts with patriotism and love for their nation. The NCC cadets in attendance drew inspiration from the ceremony, further strengthening their resolve to join the Armed Forces and serve their motherland. The ceremony concluded with the felicitation of the War Veterans and Veer Narees as a mark of respect for the sacrifices they made and hardships they endured all these years, without ever complaining, personifying courage and resilience.
The event was also attended by prominent civil dignitaries to include Dr Bilal Mohd-ud-din Bhat, DC Kulgam and other senior military officers. The school children deserve a special mention here for the enthusiasm and energy they exuded during the event and for brightening the entire atmosphere through the incandescence on their faces. Their happiness knew no bounds when they got the chance to go for a joy ride on the Ho-Ho buses, waving the national flag and singing patriotic songs.
Speaking to the media persons present, Brigadier Vivek Singh Thakur paid homage to all the brave soldiers of the 1971 war who laid down their lives in the finest traditions of the Indian Army and expressed his gratitude to all the War veterans, Veer Narees, and Ex-Service Men who made this event possible by their benign presence. He said that the Indian Army continues to move forward with its ethos of honour, valour and tradition and is always prepared and ready to defend the nation and give a befitting reply to any adversary.
1971 WAR: NORTHERN COMMAND PAYS HOMAGE TO SWARNIM VIJAY MASHAAL
To commemorate the decisive and historic victory of Indian Armed Forces over Pakistan Army in December 1971 and to pay homage to the Swarnim Vijay Mashaal (Victory Flame), a solemn Wreath Laying Ceremony was held at ‘Dhruva Shaheed Smarak’ at Headquarters Northern Command in the Udhampur Military Station. Lt Gen YK Joshi, Army Commander, Northern Command laid the wreath to honour the Swarnim Vijay Mashaal lit in remembrance of the valiant soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service of our nation. The event was attended by Veterans, NCC Cadets and senior Army officers of Udhampur Military Station.
The Swarnim Vijay Mashaal had arrived at Udhampur on 13 Jun 2021 from Nagrota & was received with full ceremonial honours. The Victory Flame was then escorted to the local unit quarter guard. After the customary ‘Last mile run’ the Victory Flame was handed over to the Station Commander, Udhampur Military Garrison who placed the Victory Flame at Dhruva War Memorial. Wreath laying was thereafter carried out by JCOs / OR and Veterans followed by Wreath Laying by the Army Commander, Northern Command. On culmination of the Wreath Laying Ceremony the Swarnim Vijay Mashaal was further handed over to Counter Insurgency Force (Delta) where it will be taken to various units to commemorate the unforgettable victory of 1971.
The year 2021 has been named as “Swarnim Vijay Varsh”, by the government of India and the Nation started the celebrations of the 50 years of Indo-Pak War which had resulted in the largest military surrender after World War-II. The inaugural event was held at the National War Memorial (NWM) in New Delhi on 16 Dec 2020 where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff and Tri-Services Chiefs laid wreath and paid homage to the fallen soldiers. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi lit the ‘Swarnim Vijay Mashaal’ from the eternal flame of NWM on the occasion. Four Victory Mashaals (flames) lit from the Eternal Flame of NWM were then carried to various parts of the country including to villages of Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra Awardees of 1971 War. Soil from the villages of these Awardees and from areas where major battles were fought in 1971 are being brought to the NWM.
NORTHERN COMMAND’S ASSISTANCE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID PANDEMIC
Station Commander, Udhampur Military Station handed over a large number of Oxygen concentrators, PPE kits, masks, steam inhalers and other Covid related material to Mrs Indu Kanwal Chib, District Commissioner, Udhampur, on behalf of Northern Command as part of proactive assistance to civil administration. Since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, Northern Command has been pro-actively providing all possible assistance to the civil administration and citizens in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh in their fight against the pandemic. As India deals with the second wave of COVID pandemic, there has been an ever increasing demand of COVID related items to save valuable human life.
Keeping in view the present situation, Northern Command has taken concrete steps towards establishing Special Covid Care Centers, sensitizing the Awam on precautions, provisioning dedicated COVID care to Ex-servicemen and Veer Naris and collaborating with the civil administration on a host of other measures. The aim of today’s initiative was to augment the resources of the local administration with regard to COVID care of the poor and needy. This noble gesture will boost the efforts of the civil administration towards adopting the preventive measures in the area thereby restricting the infection load to the minimum. Northern Command always strives to support the people in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh in protecting their lives and responding to humanitarian causes directly or through the civil administration in a centralised as well as decentralized manner.
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