How India’s new naval base at Andamans will force Beijing to reassess its strategy

Source- The post is based on the article “How India’s new naval base at Andamans will force Beijing to reassess its strategy” published in “The Indian Express” on 14th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- International relations – India and its Neighborhood

Relevance– India defence preparedness for achieving foreign policy objectives.

News– The government of India has begun to build a holistic naval base on Great Nicobar Island, which overlooks the entrance to the Malacca Straits. It is hardly 90 miles from the tip of Indonesia.

What is the rationale behind building a naval base on Great Nicobar Island?

A naval base in Great Nicobar can be the central piece to an oceanic strategyagainst Chinese aggression in the Himalayas.

Over 65 per cent of China’s oil dependency is fulfilled through Indian Ocean lines of communicationsimports. With increasing vulnerability of oil imports, China will be more cautious on LAC.

The tactical scenario in the Malacca Straits and South China Sea is already in favor of India due to the intelligence sharing and communications agreements of the Quad. In times of crisis, these agreements would be activated.

By using these agreements, Chinese aggression on the northern LAC would be countered by a threat to China-bound tankers in the Malacca Straits.

It will act as a deterrence to China. China will begin to treat India as an equal force.

The prerequisites to victory are information dominance and the denial of information to the enemy. With a base in Great Nicobar, the entry to the Malacca Straits would be a hundred miles away while the nearest Chinese base in Sanya would be 1,500 miles away.

Which factors will decide that naval base is used for strengthening the defence preparedness of India?

It depends on whether India is prepared to use it for strategic purposes. Whether it permits the new base in Great Nicobar to be the beginning of an oceanic strategy to replace the land-centric approach.

It also depends on whether the political intention is merely to set up a minor reconnaissance base in great Nicobar or build an Indian outpost for eastern theatre command.

What does this move by India to build a naval base imply?

The strategic rules governing war have not changed over the years. Alexander the Great never fought on the grounds not favoring him, nor did Napoleon and the great captains of war.

At sea, choosing the area to fight means creating a dominant battlespace where our information dominance prevails and the enemy is blinded.

The Ukraine war has once again demonstrated it. In Ukraine, the local satellite information is made available right down to the platoon commanders’ level, on the cell phone via US satellite internet.

India needs to avoid the two-front war scenario, downsizing the army and counter-punching the Chinese on the seas. It will deny Beijing a fight on the ground of its own choosing.

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