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 Muhammad Asif Sandila
Pakistan’s location—in close proximity to the northwest portion of Indian Ocean adjoining the strategic Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, and Gulf of Aden—puts it in a region that is home to intense maritime activity. That activity, both legal and illicit, has lately attracted a global spotlight.
Because Pakistan’s navy has the requisite hardware in all dimensions of maritime warfare and infrastructure ashore, it plays a crucial role in securing the global maritime highway that meets the growing energy demands of the West and the East.
At the same time, Pakistan faces a phenomenal naval buildup in our region that has the potential to disturb the maritime balance of power. Our future challenges in that arena thus run the entire gamut of maritime warfare, with conventional warfighting at its very heart. Based on that, our long-term strategic objective is to build a navy that not only secures global maritime stakes in the region but also caters to our national-security needs.
The navy we seek to develop is thus a lean, yet potent force capable of responding to all challenges—from strategic to conventional to sub-conventional levels. Our near- and medium-term objectives are all directed to achieve our stated policy.
To that end, we aim to develop our human resources in all fields of modern maritime warfare (including cyber and space), build our infrastructure further toward the West, and acquire modern hardware capable of thwarting any aggression. These steps will further add to our capabilities to undertake long-haul maritime operations and also maintain our status as a relevant power in the region.
Apart from those core undertakings, we want to engage in activities that affect our country’s environment and general welfare. In that regard, we will strive to play a more assertive and proactive role in making our coastal populace aware of the fragility of the marine environment and the hazards of marine disasters.
Already-shifting weather patterns have increased the frequency and ferocity of storms and floods in our region, so we will assume a larger role in providing disaster relief to coastal residents against these calamities. We also remain conscious of the need to develop our maritime sector and hope to bring other national agencies and institutions to a common platform that will put a long-term sustained program in place to realize the maritime sector’s true potential.
We believe these well-articulated long- and near-term objectives will help us acquit our national and international obligations honorably.