In hint towards China, Navy Chief calls for expansion of ‘operational footprint’

New Delhi: Navy chief Sunil Lanba on Friday called for expansion of its “operational footprint” to ensure stability in the Indian Ocean Region, comments seen as a reference to China’s efforts to enhance its influence in the strategically important waters.

Lanba also asked top Navy commanders to remain combat ready to effectively deal with all possible security challenges facing the country in the maritime domain.

In an address at the annual Naval Commanders’ Conference, he also touched upon various key issues relating to Navy’s operational readiness, capability enhancement and future strategies in the face of evolving security challenges.

“He emphasised the need for continued efforts towards modernisation, indigenisation and expanding the Navy’s operational footprint so as to be a stabilising force in the

Indian Ocean Region,” the Navy said in a statement.

The comments assume significance in the backdrop of China ramping up efforts to increase its presence and influence in the IOR.

The four-day conference which concluded today brainstormed over India’s maritime security challenges, modernisation of the navy and other critical issues concerning the force.

In his address, the Navy chief also touched upon issues relating to its human resource management.

While lauding the officers for their commitment and professionalism, Lanba exhorted the commanders to pay focused attention to addressing all challenges with the singular aim to be combat ready at all times.

“He emphasised the importance of quality maintenance and efficient operational logistics towards ensuring combat effectiveness,” the Navy said.

The commanders also interacted with Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat and IAF Chief B S Dhanoa who shared their views on the current security situation and the way forward for enhancing tri-services synergy and jointmanship.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar also interacted with the commanders on the geopolitical developments with focus on the Indian Ocean Region, and outlined key imperatives of India’s foreign policy and diplomatic initiatives.

In his address on Tuesday, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had asked the Navy to remain prepared to deal with any security challenge and identified expanding presence of “extra regional” powers in the India Ocean Region as an area of concern. The conference also deliberated on India’s coastal defence and logistics support management.