India’s Largest Coastal Defense Exercise begins

Goa India Coastline
Pictured is the Indian state of Goa, along the country's western coastline. Sea Vigil 2021 involves all 13 coastal states and union territories of India. Image Courtesy - Alexey Turenkov, Unsplash.

The biennial exercise code named Sea Vigil 2021 began in 2019.

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By Vikram Malik, Maritime Direct India Correspondent

Truth Dive reports about India’s biggest coastal defense exercise, taking place between 12 and 13 January 2021. It spans the entire 7,516-kilometre-long coastline of the country – including its outlying islands and 2 million square kilometres of EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). Moreover, all maritime stakeholders are party to the exercise, including fishing and other coastal communities.

On its part, the Indian Navy has especially highlighted the importance of the country’s fishing community in the nation’s security, with Captain Yadav, Command Coastal Security Officer at Western Naval Command headquarters deeming it as “the eyes and ears for early warning of threats”. This belief will be put to test during the exercise.

At the same time, a larger objective over the course of this exercise is to prepare for TROPEX or Theatre-level Operational Readiness Exercise, involving multiple advanced maritime manoeuvres, scheduled for either late January or early February 2021.

Further, numerous private bodies across India have frequently questioned the maritime security and preparedness of the country. This exercise will provide a factual evaluation of the way maritime security in the country is poised, its strengths and weaknesses, etc. which can eventually assist in formulating the nation’s overall security policy.

Unprecedented Scale

The Indian Navy has described the Sea Vigil 2021 exercise as “unprecedented” in terms of its scale and conceptualization. As reported on MSN, an exercise of such magnitude – given the stakeholders involved, the participating units, as well as the goals that have been set, is unparalleled.

Otherwise, smaller events of similar nature have taken place around the country at frequent intervals. Usually, these were limited to one or a few entities, mostly at a state level. It is only in this instance that we are seeing an array of participants coming together towards a unified goal of strengthening the country’s overall maritime security.

Backdrop of Mumbai Terror Attacks

Coastal security in India underwent a significant overhaul after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, back in 2008, which had been coordinated over the sea.

Accordingly, as One India reports, Sea Vigil 2021 and TROPEX together are intended to cover the entire gamut of maritime security challenges that India has been facing in the recent past, where usual peace and tranquillity have been replaced by ongoing conflicts.

That is the reason Sea Vigil is witnessing close coordination between the Indian Navy, Customs, and Coast Guard, along with other requisite maritime agencies.

At the same time, many state and central government bodies are also involved in it, including Ministries of Shipping, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Home Affairs, Defense, and Fisheries, among others.

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