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The Navy has a long term, comprehensive and ambitious submarine building programme, with a predominant indigenous orientation
Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R.K. Dhowan, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, ADC

Given the Indian neighbourhood and the environment of the Indian Ocean, how do you see the main challenges for the Indian Navy?
India’s dependence on the seas is steadily increasing, with a direct link to national growth and prosperity. I am of the considered view that the 21st century will be the ‘Century of the Seas’ for India. The primary challenge for the Indian Navy, as the prime manifestation and instrument of the nation’s maritime power, is to ensure a peaceful, secure and stable maritime environment, which shall permit unhindered pursuit of maritime activities for national development. For this, the navy is emerging as a multi-dimensional, networked force, capable of undertaking operations across the entire spectrum of conflict. Taking into consideration the geo-strategic environment and maritime security challenges, both in the present and future, the navy has defined its maritime capability perspective plan, for force development and modernisation. This is also focused on increasing indigenisation and self-reliance, and striving for self-sufficiency. Achieving this plan in the time and envisaged cost, with corresponding development of support structures and imbibing of advanced technologies, is very important.

Second, while we pride ourselves on being a lean and efficient force, in order to maintain that efficiency and ensure effectiveness, there is an urgent need to increase our capabilities in keeping with the growing role, responsibilities and operational footprint of the navy. In this, support infrastructure, both within the navy and in the public and private sectors, bears increase. This includes the technical base, logistics support, training facilities, human resources, and sustained budgetary provisions.

Third, the navy needs to balance its growing role and responsibilities with the extant capacity, further optimising its efforts and maximising its resources. In this, the key will remain the human resources of the navy, and converting them into ‘human capital’, through appropriate training, development of technological and leadership skills, and pursuit of best HR management practices. It will also require deft management of naval assets, exploiting their inherent versatility and flexibility, and ensuring high operational availability, with timely and effective maintenance and periodic technological upgradation.

Fourth, the Indian Navy needs to invest in capacity-building and capability enhancement through cooperative linkages, both domestic and international. On the domestic front, this includes synergy with other maritime agencies involved in maritime security, especially coastal and offshore security. At the international level, it includes training and technical support to friendly, smaller maritime forces in the region, to strengthen their efforts in maintaining a peaceful, stable and secure maritime neighbourhood. It also requires regular operational interaction with friendly and advanced navies, for enhancing interoperability and coordinating combined efforts towards strengthening the international legal regime at sea, safeguarding freedom of navigation, and ensuring security of the international shipping lanes, on which our common prosperity depends.

Admiral R.K. Dhowan

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