Defence Minister inaugurates Information Fusion Centre at IMAC, Gurugram
The defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 22 December 2018 inaugurated the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IOR) at Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) Gurugram. The IFC-IOR will serve as a hub of information sharing and analysis with several countries who have white shipping information exchange agreements with India. The IFC underlines India’s status as the ‘net security provider’ bringing together nations to safeguard the IOR.
Addressing the gathering, Chief of the Naval Staff, Adm. Sunil Lanba said, “In consonance with the Prime Minister’s vision of SAGAR, which stands for ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’, a multitude of projects aimed at the common good of the region have achieved realisation.” He said the IFC-IOR had the potential to play the role of a vital hub of maritime security related information fusion and exchange.
“The IFC-IOR shall be a collaborative construct that will work with partners; countries as well as international agencies; to enhance maritime security and safety. We also aim to work closely with multinational constructs and other information fusion centres,” he added.
“Addressing these myriad challenges requires a very high level of Maritime Domain Awareness and an appropriate mechanism to predict, prevent and respond to contingencies. However, the scale, scope and multi-national nature of maritime activities, make it difficult for countries to address these challenges individually. The only way to optimally harness our individual strength is through collaborative and cooperative efforts, of which the IFC-IOR is a shining example,” he said.
The IFC-IOR, he pointed out, is initially being launched as a virtual construct wherein information exchange will be done electronically through the internet. He further added “During this phase, the IFC-IOR shall be administered from the IMAC. We are already working on a dedicated state-of-the-art infrastructure for the IFC-IOR in the long term. The centre would then host international liaison officers from participating countries on a permanent basis, accruing immense value from their combined expertise.”
The IOR is vital to world trade and economic prosperity of many nations as more than 75 per cent of the world’s maritime trade and 50 per cent of global oil consumption passes through the IOR. However, maritime terrorism, piracy, human and contraband trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, arms running, and poaching pose myriad challenges to maritime safety and security in the region. Response to these challenges requires enhanced situational awareness of the maritime activities in the region to help security agencies function effectively.
While IMAC caters to India’s coastal security, IFC is a global initiative and projects India as the ‘guardian of the sea’ when it comes to the Indian Ocean. The 26/11 attacks in Mumbai had necessitated the need for a nodal centre of the National Command Control Communications and Intelligence Network (NC3I Network), and IMAC, which was inaugurated in November 2014, is a joint initiative of Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) to improve coastal surveillance. The IFC, however, focuses deeper into the IOR, in collaboration with partner countries for mutual information sharing to boost maritime security.
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