Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Welcome Wagon

India is increasing their ability to see ships coming west through the Strait of Malacca (Via my Jane's email updates):

The Indian Navy (IN) stood up its southernmost naval air station - in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago in the Bay of Bengal - on 31 July. Officials said that INS Baaz (meaning 'Hawk') at Campbell Bay on Great Nicobar will augment maritime domain awareness and counter-piracy capabilities in the region, and facilitate the monitoring of Chinese naval activity in the Strait of Malacca[.]

These are the islands.

Of course, while India is strengthening the front door, China already can enter the back door.

UPDATE: India's navy chief says that India isn't interested in the South China Sea (tip to Defense Industry Daily email updates):

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi today, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Nirmal Verma, said, notwithstanding “major policy statements from the US, from our perspective the primary areas of interest to us is from the Malacca Strait to the (Persian/Arabian) Gulf in the west, and to the Cape of Good Hope in the south… the Pacific and the South China Sea are of concern to us, but activation in those areas is not on the cards.”

That's fine. For now. India doesn't need to venture east of their new bases in order to cut off Chinese trade that crosses the Indian Ocean to the Persian Gulf and Africa.

And right now, China risks an ugly episode if they poke their head into that kill sack.

Besides, the admiral said, they have more work to do at the front door:

While inaugurating INS Baaz on July 31, Admiral Verma had declared the navy would be “progressively increasing the number of warships” based at Port Blair, the headquarters of India’s only tri-service command, the Andaman and Nicobar Command.

Hailing the base’s “brilliant strategic location,” the Naval chief stated that additional bases would be “dispersed along the entire length of the island chain, so as to maximise the reach and time-on-task for ships and aircraft on patrol” in the area.

Right now we are more than adequate to handle the Pacific region.

But eventually, India will feel comfortable with what they've done along that island chain. Then they will want to create the alliances and capabilities to fight in the South China Sea to support their Southeast Asian flank against Chinese power. India shouldn't rely on our ability to support those states completely.

I'll say we'd appreciate some help in the South China Sea if things get ugly.