The Indian armed forces will carry out a joint exercise, ‘Kavach’, off the Andaman and Nicobar islands next week, Defense Ministry said. The exercise in the Andaman Sea assumes strategic importance in view of China’s ambitions in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The assets of the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, as well as the Coast Guard, would be deployed in the drills. IAF’s Jaguar maritime strike aircraft, transport aircraft, destroyers, anti-submarine warfare corvettes, amphibious warships with ship-borne helicopters among others will be part of the exercise.
Hindustan Times quoting government officials as saying that the exercise in these waters hold strategic value when China is trying to open multiple routes to the Indian Ocean to overcome the ‘Malacca Dilemma’ (China’s strategic weakness).
Then-Chinese President Hu Jintao had coined the term Malacca Dilemma in 2003 referring to a narrow stretch of water between the Sumatra Islands and the Malay Peninsula, which can be blocked by rival nations. The country’s 80% of the exports pass through the Malacca Strait, which is about 350km from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
"No shore is too far – No Target is too big, for a Determined and Well Trained soldier". Infantry battalion group of #SudarshanChakraCorps undertakes Amphibious operations in the blue waters of Bay of Bengal with the Indian Navy. #SouthernCommandSadaTaiyyar@adgpi@indiannavy pic.twitter.com/iVVbQFFzBL
— Southern Command INDIAN ARMY (@IaSouthern) January 18, 2021
The defense ministry said: “The joint force would execute multi-domain, high-intensity offensive and defensive maneuvers in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal and carry out amphibious landing operations, air-landed operations and helicopters-borne insertion of Special Forces from the sea, culminating in tactical follow-on operations on land.”
The Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) based in Port Blair, the only Joint Forces Command of the country, will coordinate the exercise involving the participation of the Army’s Amphibious Brigade along with supporting Special Forces of Navy.
India will also hold Joint Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) exercise involving the military’s technical, electronic, and human intelligence elements. The ministry statement said:
“The ISR exercise will validate the capabilities of intelligence gathering from space, air, land and sea-based assets/ sensors, its analysis and sharing to achieve battlefield transparency for quick decision making at different stages of operations.”
India has increased its surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region with an eye on China, which is expanding its footprint in the strategic waters. The Indian Navy has recently conducted several military drills with other countries, aimed at countering the Chinese threat.