Indian Navy is set to hold its largest multilateral naval exercise — MILAN — in February next year, reported The Hindu.
Scheduled for February 2024, this edition is expected to see the participation of more than 50 countries. These joint drills will also highlight the Navy’s expanding role in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as a first responder and preferred security partner.
"Presence and operational reach by the Indian Navy through Mission Based Deployments and other operational engagements has steadily enhanced," the report said quoting an official.
With 17 multilateral and 20 bilateral exercises conducted annually, these activities exemplify India’s dedication to maintaining robust defence ties.
"These exercises are vital for improving operational capabilities, sharing best practices, building mutual trust, fostering interoperability, strengthening diplomatic ties, and enhancing maritime security, showcasing India’s naval prowess and contributing to a secure maritime environment," the report further said.
Exercise Milan, a biennial multilateral naval exercise that began in 1995, has grown to become India's largest exercise of its kind.
The mid-planning conference for Milan-24 took place in October this year, following the last edition in Visakhapatnam, which saw participation from over 40 countries.
Since July 2022, the Indian Navy has been part of the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Force (CMF), a US-led multinational naval partnership promoting security across international waters in the IOR.
Indian Naval ships and aircraft are regularly deployed for CMF-led operations, and India has recently decided to become a full member of this grouping.
Additionally, India has significantly expanded its capacity-building assistance to countries in the region, including providing platforms, regular training, and deploying Mobile Training Teams (MTT) overseas.
Recently, MTT from Indian Naval work up teams conducted operational sea checks of ships from friendly countries, such as Sri Lanka and South Africa, at Trincomalee and Cape Town, respectively, enhancing operational readiness and safety compliance.
INS Nireekshak also conducted mixed-gas diving training for Sri-Lankan Navy personnel in Trincomalee, both in 2022 and 2023. To date, the Indian Navy has trained over 15,000 personnel from more than 40 countries in the IOR.
Indian-built off-shore patrol vessels and fast-attack craft (FAC) are in service in Mauritius, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka, facilitated through defence lines of credit.
In October 2020, India gifted a Kilo-class Submarine INS Sindhuvir, extensively refitted and upgraded, to Myanmar.
In May this year, India also gifted a FAC and a landing craft to Maldives, replacing an earlier FAC gift. Additionally, in July, India gifted an operational corvette, INS Kirpan, to Vietnam.
These gifts aim to enhance the capacity of these countries to contribute to regional security.
Other capacity-building measures include hydrological surveys undertaken by Indian Navy Survey Ships in Tanzania, Maldives, and Mauritius, as well as the regular conduct of joint Exclusive Economic Zone surveillance in response to requests from Indian Ocean littoral states such as Maldives, Seychelles, and Mauritius
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