The world economic crisis has had an impact on virtually everyone. Proceedings asked the commanders of the world's navies: The global economic downturn is obviously affecting the United States and its Navy. How is it affecting your navy's maritime strategy, operation, and force structure?
Admiral Nirmal Verma—Indian Navy
Fortunately for us, the effect of the global economic downturn has been negligible, and the Indian Navy has been able to move forward with its force accretion plans unhindered. The Indian Navy's share of the defense budget has remained stable in the range of 16.5 percent over the last few years, although with a slight drop this year. That has helped us crystallize our plans for building a balanced navy capable of blue-water and brown-water operations across the entire range of conflict.
In 2009, we updated our Indian Maritime Doctrine in light of the evolving maritime challenges. The document explicitly elucidates the Indian Navy's roles, objectives, missions, and tasks that need to be accomplished in pursuance of our national interests. The diverse maritime challenges, ranging from natural and manmade disasters, acts of piracy, drug and human trafficking, maritime terrorism, and proliferation by state and non-state actors make it imperative that like-minded nations pool their resources.
We look forward to constructive engagement with all navies who wish to secure the "great common" from those challenges. Constructive engagement involves developing interoperability and sharing ideas and resources through a consensual process. This becomes even more important as the global economic downturn has affected a number of navies and their operating budgets. Collective action, mindful of national sovereignties and under international mechanisms, is the right way forward for confronting the maritime challenges of the present and future.
Aiding these broad parameters are regional initiatives, such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) launched in 2008 at New Delhi that gives the navies of the Indian Ocean region a common platform to discuss their problems and arrive at solutions. I am happy to share with Proceedings' readers that the IONS initiative has gathered pace, and the next meeting will be held at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. We believe that IONS will continue to grow as a viable forum to address the multifarious issues that afflict the Indian Ocean and will further strengthen the concepts of cooperative efforts that would ameliorate the high operating costs and resources required for countering the maritime challenges we face.
In the next two decades the Indian Navy is poised for accelerated growth that will give us a three-carrier navy supported by specialized platforms, an appreciable amphibious component, and sea lines of communication protection ships structured to address the challenges outlined here. We hope to further strengthen our cooperation with other navies in support of our common aim of ensuring good order at sea.
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