‘Andaman & Nicobar Is Key To Act East Policy’

News: Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC) is the country’s only integrated military command till now in India. So, It is crucial for India’s military outpost to counter China’s expanding footprint in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

About Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC)

The ANC was set up in 2001. Over 20 years, the ANC evolved into

-A Quad-service integrated theatre command of the army, navy, air force and coast guard.

-Better integration, training, and a common approach to operations, logistics and sustenance.

-Enhanced ANC’s communications, networking and maritime domain awareness along with huge infrastructure development.

-The creation of the office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has greatly empowered ANC and the HQ Integrated Defence Staff with better control, continuity and clarity in multiservice and multi-domain operations.

All these made the A&N Islands from the initial outpost a so-called springboard to a veritable hub of activities in the region.

Why Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC) is significant?

India’s central role and peninsular orientation in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) lends itself to supporting net maritime security in the region.

Over the years, the efforts of development have been towards Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR). The IOR offer tremendous scope for cooperation by everyone.

IOR region is witnessing more regular transit movements to and from the Gulfs of Aden and Oman.

So the A&N Islands provide an additional strategic outreach towards India’s interests in the IOR. The ANC’s infrastructure and military assets provide for the defence of India’s islands and the protection of Indian interests in the IOR. So, the ANC has been a pivot in India’s ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighbourhood First’ policies.

Recent initiatives in the A&N Region

The Niti Aayog, as well as the Island Development Agency, have announced numerous initiatives for further development of the A&N Islands.

In 2020, the government launched submarine optical fibre cable project in A&N Islands to provide digital connectivity.

The airport at Port Blair will also become an international airport with regional connectivity by 2022.

All these will give a fillip to tourism at the islands and in future make the island an important transshipment hub for Indian mainland.

What the country should learn from ANC?

The establishment of ANC saved precious government resources and operational benefits in the form of shorter decision cycles. The same approach of ANC should be followed by government in establishing other integrated theatre commands for the nation.

Must Read: Integrated Theatre commands in India – Explained, pointwise

Source: This post is based on the article “‘Andaman & Nicobar Is Key To Act East Policy’” published in Times of India on 23rd November 2021.

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