Rajnath Singh reviews military preparedness of Andaman and Nicobar Command

The Defence Minister said the government's aim is to make Indian Armed Forces "one of the strongest militaries in the world.”

Published: 06th January 2023 01:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th January 2023 01:13 AM   |  A+A-

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh being welcomed on his arrival, in Port Blair on Thursday. (Photo | ANI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the operational preparedness of Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) as part of his two-day visit to Port Blair on Thursday. The Defence Minister also took stock of infrastructure development in strategic areas of the archipelago.

Headquartered in Portblair the ANC is India's only operational joint services command and has been playing a key role in keeping a strict vigil in the Indian Ocean in the wake of China's growing forays into the region.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) in a statement said, "Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN) Lieutenant General Ajai Singh briefed the Defence Minister about the geo-strategic potential of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the role they can play towards enhancing India’s influence and support to military operations in the area."

The CINCAN briefed the Minister about the achievements, future plans and challenges of the ANC. He highlighted the significant role played by ANC in carrying forward the Government’s Act East Policy and in realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) by building ‘Bridges of Friendship’ with the country’s maritime neighbours.

Rajnath Singh also visited the ANC Joint Operations Centre (JOC) which is the nerve centre for integrated planning for surveillance, the conduct of operations and logistic support.

In September 2022 Admiral R Hari Kumar said China remains a formidable challenge and has increased its presence, not only along our land borders but also in the maritime domain by leveraging anti-piracy operations to normalise its naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region. The CNS specified that China began its Indian Ocean maritime deployment in 2008 using anti-piracy operations “as the reason” and since then there has been a continuous presence in the region.

“At any point, we have anything between 5-8 Chinese Navy units, be it warships or research vessels and a host of Chinese fishing vessels operating in the IOR. We keep a watch on them and see how they are undertaking their activities in the IOR,” he said.

Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) islands are one of the most important strategic areas for the Nation due to their unique location in the Bay of Bengal with has a reach and can exercise influence in the area which also has some of the world’s most important sea lanes of communications (SLOCs).

Interacting with officers and jawans, Rajnath Singh commended the Andaman and Nicobar Command. He added that since its inception in 2001, the ANC has significantly enhanced its operational capabilities, which reflects its indomitable spirit and commitment. "Our Armed Forces will soon be among the strongest militaries of the world. This is our vision as well as our mission," he said.

Earlier, the Defence Minister reviewed a Quad-Service Guard of Honour and visited Sankalp Smarak, the location of Netaji’s historic arrival on December 29, 1943. At the Sankalp Smarak, he paid solemn homage to honour the sacrifices of soldiers of the Indian National Army. Upon his arrival in Port Blair, he was received by Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Admiral DK Joshi (Retd), CINCAN and senior government officials.

This is the first visit of the Defence Minister to Indira Point since January 2019. Apart from the Strategic Signalling in view of the proximity of these far-flung islands to the Indo-Pacific, the visit of the Defence Minister to the ANC motivated the troops deployed in these distant and remote islands. It is pertinent to mention that ANC is a 21-year-old successful Integrated Theatre Command which is now being planned at the national level.

The ANC joint command, with the elements of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, came into existence in October 2001 based on the Kargil Review Committee and on recommendations of the Group of Ministers. India is working on the concept of reorganizing the Armed Forces into theatres which will have the elements of all the armed forces under one commander.

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