Navy shows its leadership: Kick-starts Indian Ocean disaster relief exercise - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 9 October 2023

Navy shows its leadership: Kick-starts Indian Ocean disaster relief exercise

Indian Navy OPV, INS Sharda, visits Port Louis, Mauritius from 13 – 15 Sep 23 for joint EEZ surveillance with Mauritius National Coast Guard

Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 9th October 23

In December 2004, the Indian Navy’s humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) response to the mayhem caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami convinced Washington that here was an ally worth having. In the two decades since, the Navy has consolidated the roles of “net security provider” and “maritime security leader” in the Indian Ocean — a gigantic oceanic space that is critical to the trade and oil flows of every regional state.


In 2015, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi placed the military on a higher state of readiness by instituting an annual exercise – the Annual Joint HADR Exercise (AJHE) – that tests its response to natural disasters in one of the most volatile sections of the world.


The Army, Navy, and Indian Air Force (IAF) have conducted the exercise in rotation since 2016. The last edition of the exercise was conducted at Agra by the IAF. The Navy is hosting the 2023 edition at Goa from Monday to Wednesday.


“The 2023 edition would further synergise efforts at the national level among all stakeholders, as well as witness participation from eight countries of the Indian Ocean Region,” stated the defence ministry on Monday. 


Since its first edition in 2015, the AJHE, named Exercise Chakravat, has transformed itself into a multi-agency endeavour involving participation of all three services, paramilitary forces and several disaster response organisations.


Exercise Chakravat forms a key component in the Navy's benign role, as climate change has significantly increased vulnerability of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to natural disasters. 


New Delhi’s inclusive oceanic policy – Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) – is the rubric, under which the Indian Navy carries out HADR operations in littoral states. 


AJHE-23, which is planned over three days, includes a seminar, a table-top exercise and a multi-agency capability demonstration. The exercise will witness participation from various national disaster-response agencies namely, National Disaster Management Authority, National Disaster Response Force, and National Institute for Disaster Management.


Discussions will be conducted on emergent topics, such as climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and disaster response in IOR: a collaborative approach.


An industrial display has been planned on Tuesday and Wednesday, with various HADR equipment showcased by FICCI and the military. A multi-agency capability demonstration will be conducted on Wednesday to showcase rescue drills.

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