Andaman and Nicobar Command

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Andaman and Nicobar Command
Active 2001-
Country  India
Headquarters Port Blair
Commanders
Flag Officer Commanding in Chief Vice Admiral Bimal Verma
INS Saryu, one of the two Saryu-class patrol vessels home-ported at INS Jarawa, Port Blair, under the A&N Command.

The Andaman and Nicobar Command is the only Tri-service theater command[1] of the Indian Armed Forces, based at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a Union Territory of India. It was created in 2001 to safeguard India's strategic interests in Southeast Asia and the Strait of Malacca by increasing rapid deployment of military assets in the region.[2][3][4] As of 2014, the command includes 15 ships of the Indian Navy, two Navy Sea bases, four Air Force and Naval Air bases and an Army brigade.[5] The Andaman and Nicobar Command is India’s first and only joint tri-service command,[6] with rotating three-star Commanders-in-Chief from the Army, Navy and Air Force reporting directly to the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.[7][8]

History[edit]

Previously there was a consideration to replace Fortress Commander, Andaman and Nicobar Islands (FORTAN) with a Far Eastern Naval Command (FENC). The previous plan to set up FENC was set in motion in 1995 following a closed-door meeting in Washington between then Indian Prime Minister, P. V. Narasimha Rao, and then US president, Bill Clinton. At the time, Pentagon officials made a formal request to the United Front coalition government in New Delhi to open a base in the islands.[9]

The 750-km long Andaman and Nicobar archipelago comprise a chain of 572 islands, and is located about 1200 km from mainland India, but is merely 90 km from Indonesia and 50 km from Myanmar. An Indian armed forces command at Andaman and Nicobar Islands would help in to prevent smuggling, piracy, drug and gun trafficking, poaching and illegal immigration in the region and especially in the Malacca Strait. The A&NC would also be in a position to assist the multinational Malacca Straits Security Initiative, aimed at curbing threats in the Malacca Straits.[3][10][11] An Indian command in the islands could also counter any future threat from China, which was rumoured to have set up a surveillance post in Myanmar's Coco Islands, 40 km off the northern tip of the Andamans, but this was proved incorrect.[12][13][14]

The Group of Ministers' (GoM) report on Reforming the National Security System recommended the replacement of the FORTAN, under the Indian Navy, with a Joint Andaman and Nicobar Command which will control the assets of the tri-services and the Coast Guard on the islands. The GoM had recommended that the Commander of this Joint Command would report to the proposed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). The Andaman and Nicobar Command was in place by the end of September 2001.[2][15][16]

Force structure[edit]

Structure of the Andaman and Nicobar Command. The stars in the boxes indicate star officer rank.

The Andaman and Nicobar Command is commanded by a three-star officer (rank of Lieutenant General of the Indian Army or equivalent) who reports directly to the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee in New Delhi. The Chief of Staff of the command is a two-star officer; each component (sea, land, air) is commanded by a one-star officer.[17]

Vice Admiral (later Admiral and CNS) Arun Prakash was the first Commander–in–Chief of the Andaman & Nicobar Command (CINCAN). The command is currently headed by Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, who took command on 29 February 2016, and is the 13th commander.[18][19]

Assets[edit]

As of May 2015, there are 20 surface warships of the navy based at INS Jarawa,[20] Port Blair under the A&N Command, up from 15 ships in 2014 and 13 ships in 2011.[5][21] Naval vessels include Trinkat-class patrol vessel, Mk.3 LCU vessels, Polnochny-C/D class amphibious warfare vessels and the SDB Mk.3 large patrol craft. The port bases amphibious platforms, offshore patrol vessels (OPV) and fast attack crafts (FAC).[22] Since 2013, two Saryu-class patrol vessels have been home-ported at Port Blair. The command provides logistical and administrative support to naval ships which are sent on deployment to East Asia and the Pacific Ocean.[21] On 6 April 2016 INS Karmuk, a missile Corvette ship was re-based to Port Blair from eastern naval command.[23]

For amphibious warfare, the command has a large Landing Ship Tank (LST) that can carry about 220 fully armed troops along with six trucks, 10 main battle tanks and 12 infantry combat vehicles for long duration. For short duration, an 800-men battalion could also be carried. The vessel also has a medium LST, apart from several Landing Craft Utility (LCU) with capacity to carry and beach 35 armed troops.[24] The 108 Infantry Brigade of the Indian Army, comprising three battalions, which includes the 21 Bihar, is deployed to the A&N Command.[25]

Dornier Do 228 maritime patrol craft and Mi 8 helicopters,[20] operating from airfields at Port Blair, Car Nicobar, Campbell Bay and Diglipur maintain surveillance over the sea areas and approaches. The Andaman & Nicobar region of the Indian Coast Guard also falls under the purview of the command.[26][27] In July 2012, the navy commissioned INS Baaz, a naval air station which is located 300 nautical miles south of Port Blair and is the southernmost air station of the Indian Armed Forces.[22]

Modernization[edit]

In 2013, the navy proposed to station a nuclear submarine and a landing deck platform at the islands in the future, and the Indian Air Force has decided to station Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters on the islands along with increasing the number of operational airfields.[3] The army's single brigade is planned to be increased by deploying a division size force(about 15,000 troops) under the command.[4][28][29] In 2015, it was reported that under the overall "island development plan", which includes a new naval air station at Campbell Bay, the existing runways at Campbell Bay and Shibpur are to be extended, while more airstrips are proposed in the archipelago and more operational turn-around bases.[20] The number of naval vessels based in the island chain will increase to 32 before 2022.[30] In addition, Japanese war bunkers, constructed during Japanese occupation of the Andaman and Nicobar islands during the World War II, will be revived to bolster security.[31]

Operations[edit]

Operators on Navy's Boeing P-8I search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
India's search areas for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The Andaman and Nicobar Command manages Indian engagement with regional navies of Southeast Asia. It conducts bi-annual coordinated patrols with the navies of Thailand and Indonesia, the annual SIMBEX maritime exercises with Singapore, and the biennial Milan[32] multilateral naval exercises. The Command also patrols India's exclusive economic zone to suppress gun running, narcotics smuggling, piracy, and poaching, and conducts maritime surveillance, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.[33][34][35]

In April 2016, the command conducted an amphibious exercise called 'Jal Prahar' to check readiness and to ensure functional integrity of all three services on the islands. Ships, aircraft and troops along with tanks from both the Eastern Naval Command and Andaman & Nicobar Command participated in the exercise.[36]

Between 19-27 April 2016, INS Karmuk and a Dornier aircraft participated in the 22nd Indo-Thai Coordinated Patrol exercise (CORPAT) in the Andaman sea. The two navies have been carrying out CORPAT's twice a year since 2005, with the aim of keeping the region safe and secure for commercial shipping and international trade.[37]

Between 28 April-19May 2016, INS Karmuk and a Dornier aircraft participated in the 27th India – Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) in the Andaman Seas with the aim to secure trade routes and enhance inter-operability between the two navies. The Indonesian Navy was represented by the ship KRI Imam Bonjol and Maritime Patrol Aircraft CN 235.[38]

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370[edit]

Surface and airborne assets from the Andaman and Nicobar Command took part in the effort to search Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The command contributed navy ships INS Saryu, INS Kesari and INS Kumbhir, and coast guard vessels ICGS Kanaklata Baruah, ICGS Bhikaji Cama and ICGS Sagar.[39][40][41] For aerial maritime surveillance, the command dedicated two navy Boeing P-8I Neptunes, coast guard Dornier Do 228, and Indian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules from Port Blair, and navy Dornier Do 228 from Car Nicobar. The Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command was nominated as the Overall Force Commander of the Indian forces,[42] which included air force Mil Mi-17, and navy Shivalik-class frigates INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, and patrol vessel INS Batti Malv from the Eastern Naval Command.[43][44][45]

List of bases[edit]

The following are the air and naval bases under the A&C command.[46]

Base City Role
INS Kardip Kamorta Logistics support
INS Jarawa Port Blair Logistics and Administrative support
INS Utkrosh Port Blair Joint Naval and Air Force Base at Veer Savarkar International Airport
INS Baaz Campbell Bay Naval Air Station
NAS/INS Shibpur Diglipur Naval Air Station
Car Nicobar AFS Car Nicobar Air Force Base

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "How the Indian Navy can dominate the Indian Ocean". Rediff. 3 September 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Prakash, Admiral (Retd) Arun (2007). "India’s Higher Defence Organisation" (PDF). Journal of Defence Studies, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses 1 (1). Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "India To Establish 2 Additional Missile Test Sites". Defence News. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Rajat Pandit (2010), Strategically-important A&N Command to get a boost. The Times of India, Feb 6, 2010. Accessed on 2012-07-23.
  5. ^ a b "Tiger Outsmarts Dragon in Andaman Waters". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Sino-India Rivalry In The Indian Ocean". 
  7. ^ "Andaman and Nicobar Islands: India’s Strategic Outpost". 
  8. ^ "Andaman and Nicobar to become a major amphibious warfare base". 
  9. ^ "India Bids to Rule the Waves: From the Bay of Bengal to the Malacca Strait". Japanfocus.org. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "Navy to have new command at Andamans". The Tribune. 11 January 1999. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  11. ^ "Malacca strait". The Indian Express. 
  12. ^ V. Pant, Harsh (3 May 2010). "China’s Naval Expansion in the Indian Ocean and India-China Rivalry". The Asia-Pacific Journal. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  13. ^ "'China a strategic partner, not a threat'". Business Standard. 8 February 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  14. ^ Selth, Andrew (9 January 2007) "Irrawaddy: Chinese whispers: The Great Coco Island mystery" BurmaNet News
  15. ^ Prakash, Admiral (Retd) Arun (2002). "Joint Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) and Defence of Our Island Territories (Part I)". USI Journal. CXXXlI. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "Andaman and Nicobar Command". NIC. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  17. ^ "Press Information Bureau". Pib.and.nic.in. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  18. ^ "Vice Admiral Bimal Verma takes charge of Andaman & Nicobar Command - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  19. ^ "Vice Admiral Bimal Verma AVSM takes over as Commander in Chief". Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  20. ^ a b c "India to slowly but steadily boost military presence in Andaman and Nicobar Islands - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  21. ^ a b "Navy ready to flex muscles in South China Sea". The Sunday Guardian. 4 December 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  22. ^ a b "New Naval Air Station 'INS Baaz' commissioned by CNS". Indian Navy. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "Andaman islands get first missile Corvette". India Today. 6 April 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2016. 
  24. ^ "Andaman and Nicobar to become a major amphibious warfare base". DNA India. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  25. ^ Army major's computer hacked; classified data may have been leaked, Times of India, New Delhi, May 7, 2010
  26. ^ "Andaman and Nicobar Command". Bharat Rakshak. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "Detained North Korean ship’s China voyages under scanner". the Indian Express. 9 August 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
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  29. ^ "India to strengthen Andaman and Nicobar Command". NDTV. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  30. ^ "Insight - From remote outpost, India looks to check China's Indian Ocean thrust". Reuters India. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  31. ^ "Japanese war bunkers from World War II to be revived in Andaman and Nicobar Islands | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  32. ^ "Milan 2014 : An Unequivocal Success". Indian Navy. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  33. ^ "Andaman and Nicobar Islands, remote Indian archipelago, now part of MH370 hunt". Washington Post. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  34. ^ Jeff M. Smith. "Andaman and Nicobar Islands: India’s Strategic Outpost". The Diplomat. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "Why has India blocked foreign tsunami aid to the Nicobar and Andaman islands?". wsws.org. 25 January 2005. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  36. ^ "Army completes amphibious exercise 'Jal Prahar' - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2016-04-25. 
  37. ^ Correspondent, Our Defence. "INS Karmuk engaged in Indo-Thai joint patrol". Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 2016-04-25. 
  38. ^ "27th India - Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) | Indian Navy". indiannavy.nic.in. Retrieved 2016-05-01. 
  39. ^ Missing Malaysian jet: Search reaches Chennai coast in Bay of Bengal Times of India 14 March 2012
  40. ^ "Malaysia Airlines MH370: India deploys 4 warships in search ops". Livemint. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  41. ^ "India to deploy helicopters, ships in Malaysian jet search". Reuters. 13 March 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  42. ^ "Lost Malaysian Aircraft - Indian Navy Joins search operations". Indian Navy. 16 March 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  43. ^ "Lost Malaysian Aircraft – Indian Navy Joins search operations". Indian Navy. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  44. ^ Gupta, Jayanta. "Indian Navy joins search". The Times of India. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  45. ^ "Search Operation for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 suspended". Indian Air Force. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  46. ^ "Andamans, not just an Indian mainland buffer". Frontier India. 3 August 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 

External links[edit]