How India is increasing its maritime domain awareness?


Foreknowledge was identified by the legendary military theorist, Sun Tzu as the critical element in the battle. It can be gathered only with specialized tools and by men who knew the enemy well.

Although modern warfare has become technology-based and more complex, ‘foreknowledge’ is still critical as the enemy at sea has become more unrecognizable.

A normal fisherman or a port worker can turn out to be a terrorist, a pirate, a criminal, or a sea-robber. To observe and track suspicious movements, Law enforcement agencies require high-grade sensors and communication networks, and information sharing in real-time.

This enhanced consciousness at sea is called maritime domain awareness.

What are India’s concerns regarding maritime domain awareness?

  • People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is developing a generation of stealthier submarines that will be capable of passing through undetected under enemy surveillance.
  • This breakthrough by the Chinese has been ascertained by a successful test of shaftless rim-driven pump-jets.

How India is increasing its maritime domain awareness?

Post-Galwan clash, Indian Navy is mainly focused on improving maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean, specifically in the seas around Andaman and Nicobar islands, to monitor the activity of China.

  • Coastal Radar network: India has already integrated Mauritius, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka into the wider coastal radar chain network. Now, it is seeking to set up radar stations in the Maldives, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.
  • Monitoring: India’s P-8I aircraft are monitoring near-seas and Indian naval ships have patrolled the Andaman Seas and eastern chokepoints for People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) submarines.
    • India is planning to install an array of undersea sensors near the Andaman Islands in partnership with Japan.
  • Information cooperation: Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region in Gurugram is fast emerging as the most prominent information hub in the Eastern Indian Ocean. Following countries are planning to post their officers at the centre;
    • Seven Indian Ocean countries — Maldives, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Mauritius, and Seychelles
    • At the centre, Indo-Pacific navies — Australia, Japan, the U.K, and the U.S.
    • Whereas, France has already posted an officer at the IFC.
  • India has also posted a Liaison Officer in
    • Madagascar at  Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC)
      • India has recently joined the RMIFC as an observer.
      • It is a key center of maritime information in the Western Indian Ocean
    • In Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) at European Maritime Awareness
      • It is helpful in monitoring maritime activity in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
  • Relations with France: India signed a logistics agreement with France in 2019.
    • France has been key for India’s participation in the Western and South-Western Ocean.
    • France facilitated an ‘observer’ status for India at the Indian Ocean Commission.
  • SAGAR: India is furthering its Philosophy of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) as a ‘security provider’ and ‘preferred partner’ in the Indo-Pacific region.
    • India has entered into shipping agreements with 21 countries in the Indian Ocean.
    • GSAT-7A, India’s military satellite, will facilitate a real-time sharing of maritime information with partners.

However, India’s maritime initiatives are not just focussed on strategic considerations but also generating cooperative synergies in the neighborhood.

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