24 littoral navies to take part in Milan exercise

24 littoral navies to take part in Milan exercise

24 littoral navies to take part in Milan exercise

Amidst growing Chinese presence in the Indo-Pacific region, the Navy has introduced an "operational element" in the biennial Milan series of exercises involving 24 littoral navies around the Indian Ocean.

This year's Milan exercise - to be held at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands from March 6 to 13 - would see the participation of naval forces from around the world. At least eight of them would bring 11 warships that would carry out "operational exercises" at sea.

The exercise from March 11 to 13 would be on maritime interdiction, and search and rescue operations. "The aim is to validate the common procedures and strengthen the standard operating procedures for inter-operability at sea," said a Navy official.

Out of the 24 nations, who will take part in the table-top strategy discussions and war-gaming, as many as eight would practice some of the drills at sea.

Besides the Indian Navy that has a significant presence on the island, warships from Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Mauritius will carry out the drills at sea.

The congregation of the naval powers would take place at a time when China is exhibiting its increased military presence in the Indian Ocean and its manoeuvres in the South China Sea has triggered concerns in the security establishment around the world.

In November, India, USA, Australia and Japan gave shape to a long-pending quadrilateral coalition in order to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of Chinese influence.

Presence of Chinese naval ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean has increased steadily since 2008. At any given point of time, there are at least 7-8 PLA Navy ships in the high seas. This includes the vessels that Beijing sent for anti-piracy patrol (since 2013) in the Gulf of Aden.