Strate­gic Vi­sion for Asia-Pa­cific and In­dian Ocean Re­gion

Rear Ad­mi­ral Sushil Ram­say (Retd)


tHE SEV­ENTH SES­SION OF the bi­lat­eral con­fer­ence be­tween the na­tional Mar­itime con­fer­ence ( nMF) and cen­tre for naval Anal­y­ses (cnA) was held from Oc­to­ber 13-14, 2016. The mu­tu­ally agreed upon theme for the con­fer­ence was Òto­wards in­dia-Us Joint strate­gic Vi­sion: con­ver­gence and chal­lengesÓ. the con­cept note of the con­fer­ence en­shrined the per­spec­tive that the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion will be the driver for the global eco­nomic growth in the 21st cen­tury. Within the am­bit of this per­spec­tive, cau­tion­ary sig­nals were and con­tinue to be hoisted that this re­gion will re­main most volatile with a mul­ti­tude of se­cu­rity chal­lenges which have the po­ten­tial to desta­bilise the re­gion.

ÒUs-in­dia Joint strate­gic Vi­sion for the Asia-Pa­cific and In­dian Ocean re­gion” was an­nounced af­ter the visit of Pres­i­dent Barack obama to in­dia as the chief guest for in repub­lic day the 2015. the vi­sion has now been fur­ther strength­ened with the sign­ing of a num­ber of im­por­tant pacts be­tween the two coun­tries, the most no­table be­ing the Lo­gis­tics ex­change Me­moran­dum of Agree­ment (LeMoA) and the re­newal of the de­fence Frame­work Agree­ment for 10 years, the most im­por­tant el­e­ment of which is the de­fence tech­nol­ogy and trade ini­tia­tive (dtti).

In­tro­duc­tory Ses­sion

Ad­mi­ral D.K. Joshi (Retd), Chair­man, NMF in his wel­come ad­dress high­lighted that china, by its eco­nomic and mil­i­tary ca­pac­ity, is the most sig­nif­i­cant player in the re­gion. it is the largest trad­ing part­ner for in­dia and sec­ond largest for the Us. While chi­naÕs re­mark­able eco­nomic growth is wel­come across the world, its strate­gic as­pi­ra­tions and con­se­quent ac­tions have cre­ated regional ten­sions that have the po­ten­tial to desta­bilise the re­gion. chi­nese mar­itime claims in the south china sea (scs) threaten free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion (Fon) and sov­er­eign rights of other claimant states. the re­cent Award by the Ar­bi­tra­tion tri­bunal has de­nied le­gal­ity to chi­nese ac­tiv­i­ties in the scs but has been met with hos­tile rhetoric from china.

thus the two-day con­fer­ence was de­signed to ex­am­ine con­ver­gences of views and in­ter­ests in the indo-Us re­la­tions that may be used to fur­ther strengthen the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. it also aimed to iden­tify di­ver­gences that may ham­per the ful­fil­ment of the po­ten­tial that this part­ner­ship has.

dr eric thomp­son, Vice Pres­i­dent and di­rec­tor of cnA strate­gic stud­ies, recog­nised the grow­ing im­por­tance nMF-cnA Bi­lat­eral con­fer­ence and com­pli­mented the or­gan­is­ers for choos­ing the themes which will con­trib­ute to mean­ing­ful di­a­logue, ex­change of views and ideas to fur­ther strengthen the re­la­tions be­tween two coun­tries.

Ses­sion I: Geopo­lit­i­cal and Se­cu­rity En­vi­ron­ment and Op­por­tu­ni­ties

Chair ÐVice Ad­mi­ral R.K. Pat­tanaik (Retd) the chair re­it­er­ated the rel­e­vance of in­doPa­cific-con­tigu­ous geo­graph­i­cal en­tity for in­dia as the cen­tre for global eco­nomic and strate­gic in­ter­est. He pointed out that al­though piracy in the West­ern in­dian ocean has de­clined, at the same time ex­tra-regional pow­ers have in­creased their pres­ence in the mar­itime do­main. ter­ror­ism be­ing the epi­cen­tre in the re­gion and in­creas­ing threat of use of tac­ti­cal nu­clear weapon by Pak­istan should be se­ri­ous cause for con­cern. CNA: Dr Eric Thomp­son dr eric thomp­son in his pre­sen­ta­tion high­lighted that the trans-regional and global di­men­sions come into play for the Us in­ter­est and geostrate­gic per­spec­tives. Wash­ing­ton is fac­ing ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour in diplo­matic, fi­nan­cial, po­lit­i­cal do­main and co­op­er­a­tion in cli­mate change. PLA is be­com­ing pro­gres­sively more global present due to ex­pan­sion and mil­i­tary mod­erni­sa­tion. rus­si­aÕs per­cep­tions of in­ter­na­tional laws and norms seem sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent from the Us. it is ex­pand­ing its mil­i­tary in­fras­truc­ture and bal­lis­tic ca­pa­bil­i­ties and po­si­tion­ing it­self again in cuba. NMF: Dr Vi­jay Sakhuja dr Vi­jay sakhuja high­lighted eco­nom­ics shap­ing po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary dis­course in the Indo-Pa­cific, im­por­tance of trade and en­ergy flows, strate­gic ta­pes­try to in­clude de­pen­dence on sea-lanes, eco­nomic pros­per­ity in­ter­twined with mar­itime se­cu­rity, co­op­er­a­tion over­load in the ior-ions, (in­dian ocean re­gion-in­dian ocean naval Sym­po­sium), Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion (APec), east Asia sum­mit (eAs), AseAn de­fence Min­is­tersÕ Meet­ing Plus (AdMM+), in­dian ocean rim As­so­ci­a­tion (IORA) and West­ern Pa­cific Naval Sym­po­sium (WPns). there­after he pointed out the chal­lenges emerg­ing in the re­gion such as pat­terns and dy­nam­ics of al­liances and part­ner­ships in Asia, strate­gic au­ton­omy/ re­al­ist mu­ta­tion of al­liance, naval in­ter­op­er­abil­ity, neo-mar­itime se­cu­rity is­sues, en­vi­ron­ment and ecol­ogy.

Ses­sion II: PCA Ar­bi­tra­tion in South China Sea (SCS): China’s Ap­proach to Regional Se­cu­rity

Chair ÐRearAd­mi­ral Jeffrey Har­ley, Pres­i­dent of the US Naval War Col­lege Rear Ad­mi­ral Jeffrey Har­ley ex­plained the broad con­tours of the dis­putes aris­ing over the ScS. He high­lighted salient fea­tures of the case pre­sented by the Philip­pines be­fore the Per­ma­nent court of Ar­bi­tra­tion (PcA) and the hos­tile rhetoric and threat­en­ing mil­i­tary ac­tion by china, post the ver­dict. NMF: Com­man­der Prakash Gopal chi­naÕs ex­pan­sive mar­itime claims have cre­ated an un­prece­dented mar­itime sit­u­a­tion that could not be seen to be solved in the fore­see­able fu­ture. At the core of the scs dis­putes is Fon to al­low free move­ment of trade within the area, which has gained more rel­e­vance in the wake of PcA Award. Fon op­er­a­tions by the Us are per­ceived as mil­i­tari­sa­tion of the re­gion which the chi­nese lead­er­ship uses to ratchet up na­tional sen­ti­ments and di­vert do­mes­tic at­ten­tion from ab­surd mar­itime claims. CNA: Rear Ad­mi­ral Michael McDe­vitt (Retd) Pres­i­dent duterte of the Philip­pines has in­fused a sta­sis in the scs dis­pute. con­se­quently, there is no move­ment for­ward as every­one is wait­ing for him to make a move with china/Rus­sia. He still wants a se­cu­rity al­liance with the Us, even if he leans to­wards china. if Pres­i­dent duterte could re­solve scar­bor­ough shoal, then it would re­move a Sino-US flash­point and por­tends good for the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem. chi­nese have con­cerns with Viet­nam for spratly is­lands as it con­trols 21 of those is­lands. Viet­namese should be en­cour­aged to dig in and make it dif­fi­cult for china. FoN should not be used as a de­ter­rent con­tin­u­ously as it would lose its rel­e­vance.

Ses­sion III: Indo-US Strate­gic Con­ver­gence

Chair ÐVice Ad­mi­ral S.P.S. Cheema (Retd) the chair ex­plained that the strate­gic con­ver­gence has be­come a geopo­lit­i­cal re­al­ity

in the post-cold War era. this phe­nom­e­non has led con­ver­gence in vir­tu­ally ev­ery field. there are more than 50 bi­lat­eral di­a­logue mech­a­nisms in ex­is­tence. there is a bi­par­ti­san will on ei­ther side to ex­pand co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the Us and in­dia. CNA: Rear Ad­mi­ral Michael McDe­vitt (Retd) - (Dr Satu Li­maye) strate­gic con­ver­gence is the new mantra for the Us and used only for in­dia. in­doUs re­la­tions are char­ac­terised by Five con­ver­gences of in­ter­estsÑ con­ver­gence on se­cu­rity to en­com­pass wide range of mar­itime and broader is­sues to en­sure pros­per­ous and sta­ble Asia; con­ver­gence of In­dia’s AEP and the US Pivot to Asia; con­ver­gence in ‘Make in In­dia’ and DTTI; con­ver­gence on counter-ter­ror­ism and Hold­ing rule of Law in Asia; and Peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of dis­putes. NMF: Cap­tain G.S. Khu­rana cap­tain Khu­rana stated that the cen­tre of grav­ity of worldÕs eco­nomic power is shift­ing. the Us Mar­itime strat­egy in 2007 had an­nounced shift from At­lantic-Pa­cific to Indo-Pa­cific. He iden­ti­fied four key de­ter­mi­nants of Strate­gic con­ver­gence; In­dia’s strate­gic Au­ton­omy, com­bined Mil­i­tary ex­er­cises to com­bined op­er­a­tion, Up­hold­ing in­ter­na­tional Law and norms and de­fence trade and in­dus­trial co­op­er­a­tion. de­fence trade and in­dus­try co­op­er­a­tion can play a key role in re­in­forc­ing in­dia-Us strate­gic part­ner­ship. Chair: Dr Eric Thomp­son NMF: Cdr Di­nesh Ya­dav in­dian Mar­itime se­cu­rity strat­egy ( iMss) 2015 in­cluded the term Ônet se­cu­rity ProviderÕ. in­dia seeks a role as a Ônet se­cu­rity ProviderÕin the re­gion rather than be­ing Ônet Provider of se­cu­ri­tyÕ as a Õre­gional Po­lice­menÕ. the way ahead for co­op­er­a­tion is best served through de­fence ac­qui­si­tions be­ing the ma­jor en­abler of strate­gic part­ner­ship, and trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy to achieve the fol­low­ing:

be­tween am­bi­tious ex­pec­ta­tions and de­liv­er­able re­al­i­ties Ð Joint Pa­trols and co­or­di­nated op­er­a­tions.

at mu­tu­ally agreed shared in­ter­ests. Rat­i­fi­ca­tion of cISMOA and BEcA and link­ing these tier-ii agree­ments with Mal­abar.

of Mal­abar to in­clude Aus­tralia, sin­ga­pore and in­done­sia. Place­ment of In­dian li­ai­son of­fi­cers at Us cent­coM, Us AFri­coM and Us PA­coM. CAN: Cdr Mathew Trite Ñ (Wil­liam Wes­ley) He pre­sented the fol­low­ing way ahead:

re­mains the key­stone of our de­fence re­la­tion­ship.

Ð com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pat­i­bil­ity and se­cu­rity Agree­ment.

ÐBa­sic ex­change and co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment for Geospa­tial in­tel­li­gence. Deter­rence (HA/DR) to Mar­itime Se­cu­rity/Power Pro­jec­tion with all do­main ac­cess, in­clud­ing cy­ber up to sea con­trol and Joint Power in the Mar­itime do­main. en­gage­ment in Mul­ti­lat­eral and in­ter­a­gency Fo­rums Ð ions, WPns and ArF.

shar­ing Ð recAAP, icc (in­ter­na­tional mar­itime bureau), iFc. se Asia Mar­itime se­cu­rity ini­tia­tive Ð ef­fort to work with our al­lies and part­ners in se Asia to build greater regional ca­pac­ity to ad­dress a range of mar­itime chal­lenges. Ð cArAt, seAcAt ex­er­cises; Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (hu­man­i­tar- ian as­sis­tance project of USN); Bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral PASSEx of op­por­tu­nity; MPRA col­lab­o­ra­tion; Sub­ma­rine co­op­er­a­tion.

Ses­sion V: Per­spec­tive of Blue Econ­omy and SDG 2030

Chair: Vice Ad­mi­ral S.K. Jha (Retd) dur­ing the ses­sion cdr Kapil narula, nMF de­lib­er­ated upon the salient as­pects of the blue econ­omy (Be) by bring­ing out that the Be comes from the lens of de­vel­op­ment and broader mar­itime agenda. He gave a de­tailed his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive of the Be. Be is hotly de­bated among the econ­o­mists, en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, strate­gic and mar­itime an­a­lysts, etc. Be is in­te­gra­tion of ocean econ­omy de­vel­op­ment with prin­ci­ples of so­cial in­clu­sion, en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity and in­no­va­tive, dy­namic busi­ness mod­els. rear Ad­mi­ral Michael Mcde­vitt (Ms ni­lan­thi samar­nayake) shared his per­spec­tive on this is­sue which was in con­ver­gence with de­lib­er­a­tions dur­ing the ses­sion.

Ses­sion VI: Panel Dis­cus­sion - Man­ag­ing Di­ver­gences in Strate­gic Out­look

the con­clud­ing ses­sion was the sum­ma­tion of the pro­ceed­ing of the con­fer­ence in the shape of panel dis­cus­sion. the par­tic­i­pants from nMF were Ad­mi­ral d.K. Joshi (retd), and dr Vi­jay sakhuja from cNA; Dr Eric Thomp­son and Rear Ad­mi­ral Jeffrey Har­ley.

the PcA rul­ing makes it very clear that there are no land fea­tures in the scs hence eeZ can­not be drawn from it. ideas like In­dian Ocean Rim of the Pa­cific Ex­er­cise (riMPAc) with ei­ther in or Usn could be ex­per­i­mented. it also emerged that not invit­ing china ev­ery year for the Mal­abar and invit­ing Ja­pan and other part­ner coun­tries like Aus­tralia, sin­ga­pore and in­done­sia. sends wrong sig­nal to china. Ja­pan may well want flex­i­bil­ity of not par­tic­i­pat­ing in Mal­abar if there are height­ened ten­sions in the east china sea or for any other such rea­sons. It will be more ben­e­fi­cial to re­tain Mal­abar in its orig­i­nal shape of indo-Us event.


The bi­lat­eral con­fer­ence in progress

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