Security challenges for India from the Indian Ocean

As per the reports from Dec 2019 which suggested that 14 UUV would be employed in the Indian Ocean mission. But newer reports suggest that only 12 UUV were used. making more than 3,400 observations.

As per the reports from Dec 2019 which suggested that 14 UUV would be employed in the Indian Ocean mission. But newer reports suggest that only 12 UUV were used. making more than 3,400 observations.
As per the reports from Dec 2019 which suggested that 14 UUV would be employed in the Indian Ocean mission. But newer reports suggest that only 12 UUV were used. making more than 3,400 observations.

Aftermath of November 26, 2008, attack

After Nov 26, 2008, I am very sensitive to the warnings coming over from the sea. I have always held the view that sea route attack per se and the Nov 26, 2008, was avertable and the Indian coastal security agencies had the capability to avert this. This averment was indeed validated by the pre-empting of an attempt to penetrate through the Coastal route on Dec 31, 2014. Plainly speaking it was a lack of political will, even if we do not attribute any complicity or duplicity to the then government at the helm when this attack occurred. But that is not what I intend to discuss in this piece.

The techniques used in terrorism have also been changing from conventional IEDs & grenade throwing, cross-fires, etc.

My sense is to that something is cooking in the sea… And in two recent articles that I came across have set the warning bells ringing. Extracts from the first one is below:

Press Report dated March 22, 2020

China has deployed a fleet of underwater drones in the Indian Ocean. According to Chinese Government sources, the drones were launched in mid-December 2019 and recovered in February after making more than 3,400 observations. These Sea Wing gliders are a type of Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle (UUV), which can operate for months on end.

The gliders are similar to ones deployed by the U.S. Navy when China seized a U.S. Navy ocean glider in 2016 the stated reason was to ensure “safe navigation of passing ships.” Taken at face value, it may be surprising that China is now deploying these types of UUV en masse in the Indian Ocean. China has also deployed the Sea Wing from an ice breaker in the Arctic.

Reports from December 2019 which suggested that 14 would be employed in the Indian Ocean mission. But newer reports suggest that only 12 were used. Possibly there were technical issues with the other two. They were launched by the specialist survey ship Xiangyanghong 06, which has since returned to Rizhou in China. The mission was the winter survey for the Joint Ocean and Ecology Research Project run by the Ministry of Natural Resources[1].

Was Corona a bio-attack?

This is an important piece given the origin of Wuhan in China as the origin of one of the deadliest viruses in recent times. This is accentuated by two more important dimensions to that. Namely the fact that a large mass was held in the center of Delhi were the carriers of this one to spread this virus to the entire length and breadth of the country to scuttle the Indian initiatives to wrest control of its growth and spread spatially.

The techniques used in terrorism have also been changing from conventional IEDs & grenade throwing, cross-fires, etc; to more of what is in technical parlance know as RNBC an acronym for Radiological, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical attack for which we had calibrated our capacities well. Hence in the first phase of the spread of this virus, our initiatives to counter were very remarkably successful especially, because of the Disaster Management Act of 2005 (passed in the aftermath of the December 2004 Tsunami when the state was at a loss to decide in whose domain it shall fall) and successful establishment of the robust National Disaster Management Agency as well as the State Disaster Management Agencies in many states.

The US concerns about Beijing’s possible breaches of a “zero yield” standard for test blasts have been prompted by activities at China’s Lop Nur nuclear test site throughout 2019, the State Department report said.

Given the very low impact of this bio-attack, the perpetrators perhaps were having a plan B to perpetuate the spread of the bio-terror attack. Hence a plan B was triggered and the foot soldiers were activated to ensure the spread is far and wide by instructing the volunteers who attended the Tablighi Jamaat to violate and not comply with the diagnostic and quarantine procedures. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Press Report of March 17, 2010

WASHINGTON: China may have secretly set off low-level underground nuclear test explosions despite claiming to observe an international pact banning such blasts, the United States State Department said in a report on Wednesday that could fuel US-China tensions.

The findings were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, and this may worsen ties already strained by the US charges that the global Coronavirus pandemic resulted from Beijing’s mishandling of a 2019 outbreak of the COVID-19 in the city of Wuhan…

The US concerns about Beijing’s possible breaches of a “zero yield” standard for test blasts have been prompted by activities at China’s Lop Nur nuclear test site throughout 2019, the State Department report said. Zero yield refers to a nuclear test in which there is no explosive chain reaction of the type ignited by the detonation of a nuclear warhead[2].

Now from the foregoing, it is a question that needs an answer. Are these Coronavirus attacks and the low key nuclear tests interlinked? That is the first question. As the concerns do get flagged my interest is in the event that the interlinks are established and that repeated perpetration of different alternative plans had prosecuted by China and its allies, do we have the capability to handle and the counteractions, reduce the casualties, etc. Because the means of perpetration and content of a terror attack both are new and integrated. Our preparation has to be multidimensional. That was what I seek to state here.

Serious initiatives in Coastal security

Let me share that in the aftermath of the Nov 26, 2008, P Chidambaram took over as Union Home Minister and did introduce many thematic policing methods. A non-descript scheme on Coast Security Scheme was revitalized; under the scheme, the State Governments were given even assistance to set up coastal police stations and patrol boats, etc. An earlier mechanism of Joint Patrolling too was reinforced. But to date, not much of harnessing has really happened at the end of State Government except the Gujarat State and undivided Andhra Pradesh. In this context during the Chief Ministers Conference held on Feb 7, 2010, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat had also made an excellent suggestion that the fishermen may be given training in Territorial Army and their inherent skills may be harnessed by Defence forces and vice versa.

Multidimensional capacity building needed

Now is the time for really putting it into practice. The new challenges appearing can be deduced from the above news reports coupled with recent experience with Coronavirus, it is important that our Marine intelligence capabilities and actionable capacities be escalated.

Hence this is a serious call out to the government to work in this direction to increase intelligence gathering capacity in the Marine sea and devise counter-strategy. I am sure the government must be aware of these challenges but still as a nationalist, I thought it would be appropriate to call out the government because of the alarming imputations arising from the news items.

Separate CTBT protocol Violations separately

I have taken care not to touch upon the nuclear build-ups in the Indian Ocean, the breach of Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) protocols and conventions and the attendant ramifications for India on which I am sure more well-informed experts will chart a suitable course for the government.

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

References:

[1] China Deployed 12 Underwater Drones In Indian OceanMar 22, 2020, Forbes

[2] US says China may have conducted low-level nuclear test blastsApr 17, 2020, Indiatimes.com

RV Subramani (RVS Mani)
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