India has successfully completed the Navy’s largest war game, the biennial ‘Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise’ (TROPEX-21), aimed at countering China’s increasing naval presence in the Indian Ocean region.
The exercise which began in early January involved a large number of warships, submarines, and aircraft over a vast geographical expanse in the Indian Ocean Region. The units of the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force, and the Coast Guard also participated.
The exercise aimed at testing the combat readiness in a complex multi-dimensional scenario set in the context of the current “geostrategic environment” concluded last week. The Navy’s statement said:
“The theatre level exercise also aims to validate Navy’s offensive-defense capabilities, safeguard national interests in the maritime domain and promote stability and peace in the IOR.”
Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh on February 19 carried out a detailed review of the recently-concluded exercise. He said the lessons of the exercise will provide the planners with accurate assessments to fine-tune force structuring, warfighting concepts, operational logistics as also material and training imperatives.
The different phases witnessed multiple ‘on-target’ ordnance deliveries, including missiles, torpedoes, and rockets from the front-line warships, aircraft, and submarines and demonstrated the lethal firepower of the Navy and reaffirmed its capability to carry out long-range maritime strikes in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
To “validate the coastal defense set-up of the country”, the first phase had witnessed the Navy conducting ‘Sea Vigil’ along the entire coastline and island territories of the nation. It included the participation of all stakeholders in coastal security.
— A. Bharat Bhushan Babu (@SpokespersonMoD) February 10, 2021
In the following phase, a large-scale tri-service joint amphibious exercise, AMPHEX-21 was conducted in the Andaman and Nicobar group of Islands.
The exercise, the Navy said, was conducted with the aim to validate the capabilities to safeguard the territorial integrity of the nation’s island territories and enhance operational synergy and joint warfighting capabilities among the three services.
The exercise has come at a time when China continues to expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean Region. India, which has for long not faced any serious maritime threats in the Indian Ocean, is now ramping up military capabilities to counter any potential misadventure by its neighbor.
“China’s growing Indian Ocean presence is not just about contesting India’s strategic role in the IOR, but it is part of a determined agenda to ’emerge as a key player in the IOR’ which feeds into China’s larger objective of becoming a global maritime power1,” writes Darshana M. Baruah, a scholar with the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Among the many concerns for India are the PLA Navy’s growing strength, China’s growing maritime ties with countries in the IOR, and the increasing naval presence in the region.
Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh had said in January that both Chinese research vessels and fishing boats have been sighted in the Indian Ocean, including in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).