America's military faces reductions in force and spending that could have a ripple effect. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world's sea services: Some see U.S. global naval engagement diminishing and the world's power structure realigning itself over the coming decade. In what ways would this affect your navy?
Early 21st-century geopolitics seems to be shaped by two phenomena: the relative shift in economic power and the enduring uncertainty in the security environment. While economic compulsions continue to affect national aspirations and military capabilities, security challenges have influenced nations in their interactions with one another. The maritime environment of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) exemplifies this aptly.
With about 50 percent of the world’s container traffic and more than 70 percent of its crude and oil products transported through it, the IOR is critically significant to the global economic and energy calculus. The region is also the hub of the greatest security challenges: the unbridled rise of unconventional threats and growing maritime challenges such as terrorism, piracy, illegal immigration, drug-trafficking and gun-running. Together, those make a compelling argument for collective and collaborative security responses in the IOR. Ongoing antipiracy operations off Somalia illustrate the potential for and the effectiveness of such endeavors.
The Indian Navy sees its primary role as ensuring regional peace and stability to enable India to focus on achieving her ambitious socio-economic and development goals. Since India is critically dependent on unhindered flow of seaborne trade and energy for this, the Indian Navy is a crucial component of the national security architecture.
The navy’s external engagement vision is based on the twin principles of cooperative security and shared prosperity. It has friendly bilateral relations with almost all IOR navies and invests resources and effort in bilateral and multilateral assistance programs to augment the security requirements of a number of countries. It views itself as a “force for good” in the region, as its initiative to launch the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in 2008 to promote constructive engagement and enhance regional maritime security would demonstrate. Today, 35 member countries of IONS are working through a consensual, participative and cooperative approach to evolve agreed remedies for regional maritime security matters.
The Indian Navy has very cordial relations with the U.S. Navy and our partnership is demonstrated through regular exchange of ideas, combined exercises and sharing of technology. This relationship is a manifestation of our shared ideals of democracy, tolerance, freedom and the rule of law. I can only see our partnership growing in strength in the years ahead.