A new U.S. defense strategy unveiled in January calls for a resized, refocused military. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world’s sea services: In an era of austere defense budgets and rapidly increasing technologies, what are the strategic objectives for your naval force over the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
Admiral Nirmal Verma
The relevance of this question in our context is emphasized by the fact that our defense spending as a percentage of gross domestic product is significantly lower than global standards, while our operating environment has witnessed a proliferation of threats by state and non-state actors and the prevalence of high-technology weapons and sensors.
We have adopted the twin strategies of indigenous solutions on one hand and multilateral cooperation on the other.
We are the most ardent subscribers of our indigenous defense industries and pride ourselves as being a “builder’s navy”—a phrase that reflects the enormous investment our navy has made in conceptualizing ship and submarine designs. Our indigenous aircraft carrier project, the construction of destroyers and frigates, light combat aircraft (naval) and strategic submarine programs, are a few examples of how we intend to invest in domestic industry. Of the 49 ships and submarines presently on order, 45 are from Indian shipyards. We also see this as an opportunity for global cooperation since the intention is to adopt leapfrogging technologies that will bridge prevalent gaps.
The dangers of maritime terrorism have dictated that we develop a whole-of-government approach toward ensuring the security of coastal areas. That has created an extensive national maritime infrastructure, which is intended to provide the navy operational flexibility.
Another vital component of our strategy is a commitment to bilateral and multilateral cooperative engagements with other maritime forces. “Malabar” with the U.S. Navy, and the “Indian Ocean Naval Symposium”—of which we are a founding member—are illustrative.
Sitting astride busy sea lanes of communication, we intend to fully use our strategic geography, demonstrated by our unrelenting efforts to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden since 2008.
Investments in technologies related to network-centric operations aim to focus their use across a wide geographic area, thereby balancing costs.
We believe our personnel are our greatest assets. By investing in their training, which is now increasingly specialized and technical, we are assured that their spirit of innovation will help in addressing the challenges of tomorrow.