The Western Naval Command Conducted Exercise Paschim Lehar, a tri-Service Maritime Exercise. It commenced on the Western Seaboard on 12 February 2018. This exercise includes the participation of a large number of ships, submarines and aircraft from the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy.
In addition, units from Eastern Naval Command, Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Indian Coast Guard also participated to build interoperability.
The exercise was conducted in two phases. The exercise includes a number of weapon firings, including missile, gun and torpedo firings during the initial phase. The second phase is structured to validate and refine the operational plans of the Western Naval Command.
About Exercise Paschim Lehar (XPL):
- Over 40 ships & submarines, a similar number of maritime surveillance, fighter aircraft, helicopters and Remotely Piloted Aircraft of the Indian Navy and the IAF participated in XPL.
- The current edition of Exercise Paschim Lehar (XPL) also saw the involvement of the Indian Air Force and the Coast Guard. The IAF has squadrons of Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft that are tasked with a maritime role based in Gujarat.
- The Amphibious capabilities of the Armed Forces, along with the elements of Army Amphibious Brigade (91 Inf Brigade) will also be deployed and tested for operational tasking during the exercise.
Separate Exercises for Separate Commands:
- This year onwards the Navy had decided to conduct separate exercises on the eastern and western seaboards.
- Last week, the navy ended an exercise called ENCORE that was led by the Eastern Naval Command. The Eastern Naval Command Theatre Level Readiness Exercise (ENCORE) also involved more than 40 ships and submarines, including those from the western fleet and the Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC).
- Among the annual exercises conducted by the Navy was the Tropex – Theatre Readiness Operational Exercise (TROPEX).
Effect on Maldives Emergency:
- China and the Maldives have recently warned against threats of military intervention in the archipelago following the declaration of a state of emergency by President Yameen. The exercise, which came after the Eastern Naval Command Operational Readiness Exercise (ENCORE), is ostensibly being conducted to show China India’s military prowess.
- China continues to ramp up its operations in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which is a threat to India’s strategic interests. India is monitoring Chinese activities in the IOR especially at a time when the Maldives leadership is supporting China with a view to tackling India.
- Recently, a Chinese flotilla of a destroyer, frigate, amphibious transport ship and replenishment tanker had entered the Indian Ocean Region through an Indonesian strait on February 10, after conducting drills in the contentious South China Sea. It returned after later.
- In view of the Chinese activities, India is also ramping up its operations and bases in the region. India has also expressed its interest in joining the proposed quadrilateral alliance with the US, Japan and Australia to counter Chinese activities in Indo-Pacific.
The Indian Navy is undertaking various exercises on different seaboards to tackle China’s aggression in the Indian Ocean Region. At a time, when Mali is also supporting Beijing against India, it becomes very vital that India enhances interoperability between the tri-services and also with other friendly foreign nations.