This issue commemorates the Indian Navy Day with the focus on its supposed increased roles and missions under the rubric of the new moniker Indo-Pacific region. The term Indo-Pacific has gained sudden geo-strategic currency with the arrival of the Trump administration. Implicit in this is the big-power role that the US desires India to play, stretching from the East China Sea across the entire Indian Ocean Region. In what is not a coincidence, the decade-old Quadrilateral dialogue – between the US, India, Japan and Australia – too has been revived with push from Japan and the US.
While both the geo-strategic constructs appear ambiguous, the unmistakable undercurrent is obvious. It is to ensure the rule of law in the waters of Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. Since China is the sole challenger to the existing peace in these waters, through its Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing is uncomfortable. This does not mean that China can be contained; what it means is that its geo-strategic plans to become the sole power in Asia might hit roadblocks. However, the saving grace for China is that all major powers in the region are constrained by their deep bilateral trade and commerce with China. For example, unlike India, the US, Japan and Australia have not out-rightly rejected the Belt and Road Initiative.
Truth be told, India stands alone. It has its Achilles Heel in the form of disputed land border with China. Unlike the other three members of the Quad, it is not in an alliance with them. It has rejected the Belt and Road Initiative. And, importantly, the Indian Navy has to do stock-taking of its capacity and capability to meet the burgeoning security challenge.
With this in mind, we decided to get the views of the big three: the chief of naval staff; the C-in-C, Western naval command (who would bear the brunt of the inter-operability between China and Pakistan); and the CMD, MDL (India’s premium war-shipbuilders). To fill in the gaps, the reader might find the cover-story instructive. In addition, this issue provides a plethora of naval matters, from naval helicopters to naval missiles, to amphibious operations, to anti-submarine warfare and so on.
We recommend three articles written by retired naval experts. The first one is by Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, one of the finest minds that has led the Indian Navy. The second article is by RAdm Sudhir Pillai, an officer who understands the import of doctrine. The third is by Cmde Sujeet Samaddar on disruptive technologies.
We also have the usual columns. There is one on the recent release of Hafiz Saeed and India’s misplaced reaction. We will write more on this issue in the coming issue in January 2018 which would be special on the Indian Army. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.