Letter from the Editor | December 2021

Deliberate or coincidental, the Indian Navy managed a bouquet of good news in the run up to the Navy Day 2021. From the launch of its frigate Tushil in the Kaliningrad shipyard Yantar to the commissioning of the Project-15B destroyer INS Vishakapatnam and fourth of the Scorpene class submarine INS Vela (both built at Mazagon Docks Ltd), navy had a line-up of platforms to celebrate. Topping them was the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant being built at the Cochin Shipyard, which successfully completed its first sea trial a few months ago.

This Indian Navy special issue then celebrates what has been achieved and what is possible instead of deliberating upon what has been left unaddressed. Perhaps, there will be other occasions when one can critically look at the pace and direction of navy’s capability building. After all, it is no secret that Indian Ocean Region, hitherto Indian Navy’s safe place, is increasingly becoming contested and challenging. Hopefully, the naval leadership is conscious of the fact that the challenges in the IOR, crawling with submarines and a plethora of undersea unmanned systems, can easily turn into threats.

FORCE had asked these questions of the chief of naval staff. But with the change of guard at the top, these questions remain unanswered for now. In the absence of those, the FORCE cover story focusses on the concepts of sea denial and sea control, the criticality of amphibious capability given our numerous island territories, the emerging trends in anti-submarine warfare and the importance of building bridges of trust and interdependence across the seas.

As a sobering reminder of the distance we have covered vis a vis our biggest adversary to the east, there is a detailed report on how China through some long-term planning and deft contracts has managed to create a globally competitive defence industrial complex. There could be lessons there.

Maritime issues apart, the December edition of FORCE also looks at several other subjects which should concern those engaged with India’s national security. For instance, how much of individual liberty are we willing to surrender for the sake of law and order. Should the policemen have the right to invade the privacy of law-abiding citizens in the name of crime prevention? We also have a very poignant view from Kashmir, which should make us wonder the price we extract from our citizens in the name of national security.

The other issue that we delve deep into is women in the army and how most of the arguments used by the conservative lot are either outdated or prejudiced, hence untenable. This is one change that is unstoppable.

With this, another year comes to a close. May the coming year be kind to all of us.



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