On 14 and 15 July, a tri-nation tabletop anti-narcotics & maritime search and rescue exercise—Exercise Shield came to be conducted virtually between the Maldives National Defence Force, Sri Lanka Navy and Indian Navy, with the latter as the lead agency. The exercise was coordinated by Maritime Warfare Centre (MWC), Mumbai.
The two-day exercise commenced with an opening address by Chief Staff Officer (Operations), Western Naval Command, Mumbai, Rear Admiral Gurcharan Singh. Director General Operations, Sri Lanka Navy, Rear Admiral Prasanna Mahawithana and Area Commander, Maldives National Defence Force, Colonel Ibrahim Hilmy too participated in inaugural session.
Anti-narcotic operations and maritime search and rescue were the issues that the participants deliberated on. A press note from the Indian Navy stated that the participants shared a unique geographic location, sitting astride the major shipping routes of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The exercise focused at enhancing maritime security cooperation and mutual understanding, exchange of best practices/procedures for countering common trans-national maritime crimes such as narcotics smuggling, evolving modalities for exchanging information/intelligence and to assist each other in Maritime Search and Rescue. All agencies participated in the exercise and shared their experiences and practices.
In his closing remarks, Director, MWC, Mumbai, Commodore Srikant Kesnur thanked the participants for their wholehearted support and cooperation.