Defence and Security

Making the case for India’s naval build-up

Mar 24, 2017
India’s naval establishment has been het up after Abhijit Iyer-Mitra wrote a scathing piece for this newspaper last week, criticizing the Indian Navy for its maritime modernization strategy (“The problem with India’s naval build-up”). Iyer-Mitra disapproved of the decision to induct aircraft carriers as being fiscally imprudent, serving to subsidize a certain “delusion of grandeur” in the Indian navy, and impeding efforts to modernize the army and air force.
Though seemingly well argued, Iyer-Mitra’s piece reveals a misjudgement of the essence of naval operations, as well as a lack of appreciation of the political objectives maritime power is meant to further. In over half a century of naval development, maritime forces have based their combat strategy and modernization on two principal concepts of operations: “sea control” and “sea denial”. A maritime power either dominates the adversary by controlling the littoral seas or denies their use to the adversary. Sea control is the strategy of choice for an ascendant force but entails a higher operational commitment in dictating the tempo of operations in littoral spaces over prolonged durations. In contrast, a weaker force focuses all its combat efforts in denying the adversary the use of the near-seas—a strategy called “sea denial”.
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Livemint, March 24, 2017

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