The regional maritime security community will review progress in this initiative after gathering in Gurgaon for the Maritime Information Sharing Workshop 2023 (MISW 23)
By Vikas Gupta
Defence News of India, 13th Sept 23
In November 2014, India brought together countries of the Indian Ocean rim to form the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) – a high-tech control centre in Gurugram that obtains feeds from space-based and terrestrial sensors and sources, and uses them to track fishing boats and commercial vessels near India’s coast and in the vast maritime domain beyond.
After setting up IMAC to safeguard the waters of the northern Indian Ocean and to prevent any repeat of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist strike, New Delhi soon extended this into an international version called the Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR).
IFC-IOR was designed as a maritime diplomatic initiative that underlines India’s status as a “net security provider” that brings together regional countries to safeguard global commons, freedom of navigation and provide security against challenges such as piracy, terrorism, gun-running, narcotics, human migration and illegal fishing.
The IFC-IOR primarily watches over the Northern Indian Ocean, through which run sea lines of communications (SLOCs) that carry 75 per cent of the world’s maritime trade and half of its daily oil consumption.
On Thursday, the regional maritime security community will review progress in this initiative after gathering in Gurgaon for the Maritime Information Sharing Workshop 2023 (MISW 23).
The workshop will bring together 31 countries of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the Djibouti Code of Conduct/ Jeddah Amendment (DCoC/JA), from 14-16 September.
IFC-IOR, which is headed by the Indian Navy, hosts International Liaison Officers (ILOs) from partner nations who collaborate in countering challenges to maritime safety and security. There are currently ILOs from twelve countries, viz. Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, UK and USA are appointed to the Centre.
IFC-IOR actively collaborates with 42 other maritime security constructs and another 25 partner countries towards ensuring a peaceful, stable and prosperous IOR.
“MISW 23, scheduled from 14 – 16 Sep 2023, marks a significant stride in fostering engagement with partner nations and regional constructs… This edition of the workshop has been planned exclusively for members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the Djibouti Code of Conduct/ Jeddah Amendment (DCoC/JA) countries”, stated the Ministry of Defence in a press release on Tuesday.
There are already three similar “maritime domain awareness” initiatives in the hemisphere. These include one in Singapore that focuses on south-east Asia, one in Madagascar, run by the European Union, that focus on the African coast and the Southern Indian Ocean, and one in the Mediterranean Sea. However, the IFC-IOR focuses squarely on the waters that carry the bulk of global trade.
The workshop will include training sessions on contemporary maritime security challenges in the IOR, and the need for international cooperation and information sharing to address the prevailing maritime threat landscape.
A full day will be dedicated to a maritime security (MARSEC) exercise involving collaboration and information sharing, and preparation of contingency plans to counter MARSEC and safety threats.