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Indian Ocean Region Working Group meets today for effective response mechanism – Defence News of India


As over 120 warships of extra-regional forces are currently deployed in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in support of various missions, a key meeting of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium Working Group is taking place on Thursday to have better effective response mechanisms.

Launched in 2008, the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) is a voluntary initiative of 26 nations that seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues.

It is the fifth meeting of the IONS Working Group, being attended by Australia, Bangladesh, France, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Maldives, Oman and Thailand, besides India. Thursday’s meeting is being coordinated by the Indian Navy, which is the Chair of the IONS Working group on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR).

“Amidst growing presence of Chinese military in the Indian Ocean Region, the IONS initiative has grown significantly and currently enjoys wide acceptance across the Indian Ocean Region,” said a senior naval officer, adding that besides enhancing regional security, the co-operative is a forum for discussion on regional maritime issues, and also serves to develop an effective response mechanism against natural disasters.

“In the past few years, three IONS Working Groups (IWG) have been progressing work in the fields of Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief (HADR), Maritime Security & Information Sharing and Interoperability,” an officer added.

Owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday’s meeting of IWG on HADR has been scheduled through video conference and would be inaugurated by Vice Admiral Dinesh K. Tripathi, Director General Naval Operations, Indian Navy. During the meeting, the participants would be sharing their experiences, including lessons learnt during conduct of HADR operations undertaken in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few days back, while addressing the Global Dialogue Security Summit on developments in the Indo-Pacific, the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat has pointed out that in recent years, China’s economic and military rise, coupled with competition to increase influence in the region, has attracted a great deal of attention. “At present, there are over 120 warships of extra-regional forces deployed in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in support of various missions. For now, by and large, the region has remained peaceful, albeit under contestation,” he said, while adding that we need to build capabilities to execute operations in response to requests from friendly foreign countries like HADR, search and rescue, protection of vital Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCS), non-combat evacuation operations and robust protection of our island territories.”