This is special issue. For the first time a national security magazine was given access to India’s first tri-service command, the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC). FORCE editor spent a week in Port Blair, visiting and engaging with all elements of the military — navy, air force and the army — which make up this command.
While without doubt, as far as joint-ness is concerned, ANC does project a picture of success, but unfortunately it is punching way below its weight. If ever there was a case of ignoring opportunities, it is here in full glory. Andaman and Nicobar is not merely India’s easternmost territory; apart from being the bridge to Southeast Asia, it is India’s watchtower into the Malacca Straits. For years, successive Indian governments have been wary of recognising the strategic potential of this tiny archipelago which sits in the middle of the Bay of Bengal. As a result, the military build-up on the island territory happened in a piecemeal manner (disregarding navy’s grand vision) without much thought about its role or potential.
As the FORCE cover story highlights, the government of India needs to relook at ANC, especially when the entire Southeast Asian region has become the focus of world attention. In sheer numbers, the busiest sea lanes of communication pass through this region. Hence, instead of a tri-service command, it should be a naval command with all the trappings of an offensive establishment. The cover story is anchored by the exclusive interview with commander in chief ANC. Hopefully readers will find much to think about in the ANC story.
Since we are focussing on naval power projection in this issue, we also have an article on naval propulsion systems. The Indian Navy takes great pride in calling itself Builder’s Navy, however in the absence of indigenous ‘move’ element this claim has a hollow ring to it. When Indian defence research establishments are working (or trying to collaborate with global OEMs) on aerial engines, it is time attention is paid to marine engines too, whether gas turbine or diesel.
We also have special articles on the Indian Army’s concept of Air Cavalry and personnel protection; plus recollection of a former commander on the sensitive north-eastern region of India. While looking back at his successive tenures in various parts of the Northeast, he suggests the way forward.
In addition to this are our usual features, news and updates from the industry as well as the Services. The valiant ladies of the navy have returned home after circumnavigating around the world. We have welcomed them with a two-page picture story encapsulating the final leg of their home run. Enjoy!