Defence Minister Sitharaman to witness major joint exercise, amphibious warfare operation drills in Andaman

New Delhi: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be witnessing a major joint exercise involving the Army, Navy and the Air Force along with the Coast Guard in the Andaman and Nicobar island territory involving the Marine Commandos (MARCOS) during her two-day trip to the strategic archipelago, starting Sunday.

The Minister is scheduled to reach Port Blair on Sunday, where the country’s only tri-Services operational command formation Andaman and Nicobar Command would showcase their operational capabilities.

During the operational demonstration to the Defence Minister planned at the Anderson Bay island, the Andaman and Nicobar Command will carry out a drill where the three Services- Army, Navy and Air Force-will carry out a mission along with the Coast Guard, to show the unity among services on ground, Defence Ministry officials said.

The Army, which has a brigade strength (around 3,000 troops) deployed in the Andaman, would also be showcasing its ability to carry out amphibious warfare operations. During the drills, Army troops are carried on the naval ships to take back any island perceived to have been taken over by the armed anti-national elements.

The Air Force and the Coast Guard also play a role in carrying out these operations.

The Marine Commandos of the Navy and the Ghatak troops of the Army battalions launch attacks on their targets after slithering down from the Mi-17 helicopters.

In the drills planned after the commandos clear the base for the arrival of amphibious ships, the Landing Crafts of the Navy carrying BMP infantry combat vehicles would ferry infantry soldiers to the shore to capture their objectives.

The Coast Guard helicopters would also showcase their search and rescue capabilities during the exercise.

During her visit, Defence Minister Sitharaman would also be inaugurating a housing complex for defence forces personnel under the Married Accommodation Project of the Central government.

The Minister would also be reviewing a jungle survivor drill to be shown by the troops deployed there.
For long, India has been developing its military capabilities in the Andaman Islands in a big way by establishing a troop services command there.

The strategic archipelago is very close to the mouth of the Malacca straits which is used by almost 70 per cent of the merchant traffic going towards China and other destinations.

The Chinese Navy also uses the same route to enter the Indian Ocean Region.

India would be getting a fourth major airfield in the Andamans as INS Kohasa would be inaugurated by Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba near Diglipur island north of Port Blair.

The southern-most airfield INS Baaz can operate fighter aircraft which can, if required, carry out operations near the Malacca Straits in almost no time.