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At the sec­ond edi­tion of the bian­nual Naval Com­man­ders’ Con­fer­ence held re­cently, Ad­mi­ral R.K. Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff, fo­cused on the thrust ar­eas out­lined by him dur­ing the pre­vi­ous edi­tion in June which are: sus­tain­ing com­bat readi­ness, build­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties for the fu­ture and ad­dress­ing hu­man re­source chal­lenges. The CNS em­pha­sised that en­hance­ment of com­bat ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the fleet and ef­fi­cacy of weapon sys­tems along with readi­ness of other op­er­a­tional for­ma­tions is of prime im­por­tance and fo­cused ef­forts, as hith­erto, are re­quired at all lev­els to en­sure sus­tained growth of the Navy and peak com­bat ef­fi­ciency. He stated that the readi­ness lev­els of Navy’s front­line fight­ing units, which have been strength­ened through in­sti­tu­tion of safety au­dits, needs to be mon­i­tored with due earnest­ness. He fur­ther stressed that the com­bat readi­ness of the Fleet must be sup­ported by in­ge­nious re­pairs and re­spon­sive op­er­a­tional lo­gis­tics. Op­er­a­tional con­sol­i­da­tion and ef­fec­tive man­age­ment of new in­duc­tions are of high­est pri­or­ity, he said.

The Ad­mi­ral stressed that the ma­jor ex­er­cises be­ing un­der­taken by both the fleets be op­ti­mally utilised to fur­ther im­prove op­er­a­tional and ma­te­rial preparedness, in­te­grate newly in­ducted plat­forms, re­fine war-fight­ing doc­trines as also to im­prove the in­ter­op­er­abil­ity with sis­ter ser­vices.

Coastal se­cu­rity is­sues were also dis­cussed dur­ing the con­fer­ence wherein the Ad­mi­ral said that the In­dian Navy must con­tinue to pro­vide req­ui­site fo­cus to our coastal se­cu­rity re­spon­si­bil­i­ties through proac­tive co­or­di­na­tion with other mar­itime agen­cies and coastal states. He stated that steady progress has been made in strength­en­ing the coastal se­cu­rity con­struct, with in­duc­tion of FICs, ISVs and Sa­gar Pra­hari Bal.

The CNS re­viewed In­dian Navy’s For­eign Co­op­er­a­tion Road Map, with spe­cific em­pha­sis on what has been achieved, and the way ahead. “For­eign co­op­er­a­tion be­ing a vi­tal com­po­nent of our strat­egy of ‘shap­ing the mar­itime en­vi­ron­ment,” he said that this area be ad­dressed at mul­ti­ple lev­els with due im­pe­tus. Stress­ing that In­dian Navy is an “im­por­tant as­set to In­dia’s diplo­matic out­reach,” he said.

He fur­ther high­lighted that In­dian Navy needs to be seen as a de­pend­able part­ner and the “first port of call” for the friendly navies in the In­dian Ocean re­gion.

The In­ter­na­tional Fleet Re­view (IFR), planned in early 2016, a ma­jor event on the anvil for the In­dian Navy, was also dis­cussed dur­ing the con­fer­ence. The Ad­mi­ral said that apart from be­ing a cer­e­mo­nial and diplo­matic naval event, it is also an ex­er­cise in bring­ing to­gether the navies of the world on a common plat­form with an aim to have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of each other and share best op­er­a­tional prac­tices. He urged that this event of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance be planned and co­or­di­nated in a most pro­fes­sional man­ner.

The Ad­mi­ral dis­cussed the self-re­liance pro­gramme of the Navy and stressed that in­di­geni­sa­tion of plat­forms, weapons, sen­sors and equip­ment, through pub­lic as well as pri­vate sec­tors, should re­main a pri­or­ity area of fo­cus. In­dian Navy’s var­ied con­tri­bu­tions to indi- geni­sa­tion and un­flinch­ing faith in ‘home grown’ ca­pa­bil­i­ties is a mat­ter of pride and needs to be strength­ened fur­ther. He fur­ther said that the on­go­ing mech­a­nisms to en­hance the In­dian Navy-De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (IN-DRDO) syn­ergy must be con­tin­ued.

The top naval com­man­ders took stock of the sub­stan­tial boost pro­vided to the Navy’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties with the in­duc­tion of Vikra­ma­ditya with in­te­gral fighter air­craft, INS Kolkata (P15 A De­stroyer), INS Kamorta (P 28 ASW Frigate) and INS Sumitra (OPV). The CNS also ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion at the steady aug­men­ta­tion of as­sets in the avi­a­tion arm of the Navy with pro­gres­sive in­duc­tion of P 8I LRMR and Hawk trainer air­craft. Dis­cus­sions were also held on the on­go­ing LCA (Navy) project. Ca­pa­bil­ity gaps in the sub­ma­rine fleet, ship borne he­li­copters and Mine Counter Mea­sure Ves­sels were also dis­cussed.

The Ad­mi­ral also dis­cussed about the util­i­sa­tion of re­sources al­lo­cated to the In­dian Navy. En­sur­ing that ev­ery ru­pee is stretched to the max­i­mum and op­ti­mally utilised through ad­her­ence to cost con­scious­ness and strin­gent bud­get man­age­ment, es­pe­cially in the ac­qui­si­tion of spares, equip­ment and ma­chin­ery, was stressed upon by the CNS.

The CNS con­cluded the con­fer­ence by com­pli­ment­ing all per­son­nel of the In­dian Navy for their pro­fes­sion­al­ism and pa­tri­o­tism, and ex­horted them to pre­pare them­selves and the Navy to meet the mar­itime se­cu­rity chal­lenges be­ing faced by the na­tion. He stated that In­dian Navy, which is amongst the best in the world, is set to grow fur­ther and there is an im­mense role and re­spon­si­bil­ity on each one of us to pre­pare our­selves and the Navy to fully meet the needs and ex­pec­ta­tions of a resur­gent na­tion. “We need to pull on the oars to­gether to pro­pel the Navy to greater heights”, he said.

Chief of the Naval Staff Ad­mi­ral R.K. Dhowan ad­dress­ing the bian­nual Naval Com­man­ders’ Con­fer­ence in New Delhi

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