Wednesday, December 7, 2022
HomeDefenceWith Exercise Sambandh, India to showcase naval supremacy in Indian Ocean region

With Exercise Sambandh, India to showcase naval supremacy in Indian Ocean region

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The naval exercise will see the participation of officers from 10 nations of the Indian Ocean region, in a bid to counter the growing Chinese influence.

New Delhi: Over the next few days, India is seeking to showcase its supremacy over the Indian Ocean region through a naval exercise that will see participation from officers of 10 nations – stretching from Oman in the west to Malaysia in the east. Exercise Sambandh – to be carried out on the West Coast – will have the Indian Navy demonstrating the prowess of its largest combatants at sea.

While not at the scale of the multi-nation Malabar exercises that India carries out with the US and Japan, a large part of the western naval fleet will be in operation, as middle-rung officers from these 10 nations sail on frontline Indian warships.

Unlike some joint exercises, in which friendly foreign nations send in warships and other assets, Exercise Sambandh will see only Indian warships like the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier and frontline frigates and destroyers-at-sea demonstrate their capability of carrying out intense operations.

Over 20 Indian warships are expected to be part of the exercise, which will include visits to the Karwar naval base, as well as the naval aviation headquarters in Goa.

“The idea is to showcase the significant capability that we have. The participants will witness fighter jet operations, and will sail on the aircraft carrier as part of the demonstrations,” a senior Navy officer told ThePrint.

Participants include officers from the Maldives, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Mauritius. Besides 19 officers from these littoral nations, a large contingent of foreign officers who are undergoing a senior military training course in New Delhi will also witness the operations.

The China factor

While Exercise Sambandh has been carried out in the past as a demonstration to officers undergoing the prestigious National Defence College course, the participation of littoral nations is part of a larger strategy to counter a growing Chinese influence in the region.

The Chinese Navy has, in the recent past, scaled up its naval presence in the Indian Ocean, with several instances of nuclear submarines being observed, including at ports in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Besides, there have been increasing concerns about the rapid growth of the Chinese Navy that had outmatched India in all aspects.

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