NEW DELHI: The first international liaison officer with a mandate to work as a bridge between the functioning of the Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region has begun his work giving a push to the Indian initiative to engage friendly foreign countries in meeting maritime challenges. The foreign naval officer reported at the Centre in Gurugram, Haryana, in September.
“The French officer has begun his on-job learning informally as the terms of reference are not complete,” said a source.The Centre is expected to collate data on sea lanes in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) through which 75 per cent of the world’s maritime trade and 50 per cent of global oil pass. However, the region is troubled by maritime terrorism, piracy, human and contraband trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, arms running and poaching.
India aims to meet these challenges with enhanced situational awareness which will enable security agencies to function effectively. There are about 1 lakh big and small boats sailing in the region at any given time. Singapore is the third country to have agreed to station a liaison officer at Gurugram after Admiral Tim Fraser, U.K.’s Vice Chief of Defence Staff announced it last October.
IFC-IOR was inaugurated in December 2018 and is tasked to collate, fuse and disseminate intelligence on ‘White Shipping’ in the Indian Ocean. It aims to base 40 international liaison officers once a suitable infrastructure to house them is in place.India till now has signed white shipping information exchange agreement with 22 countries and one multinational construct — the Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Centre which facilitates 30 other countries to create a virtual network for exchange of information.