"Indian Navy's role is not only vital for national security, but also for national prosperity and development". — Admiral R.K. Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff
|By Rear Admiral Sushil Ramsay (Retd)
Senior Editorial Advisor, SP's Naval Forces
The Naval Commanders' Conference, an annual event to review the strategic and doctrinal aspects of the operational effectiveness and readiness of the Indian Navy (IN) is held annually in two parts. The first edition of the Naval Commanders' Conference 2016 was held at New Delhi from April 21, 2016 to April 23, 2016.
The inaugural session of the Commanders' Conference was presided over by RakshaMantri (RM), Shri Manohar Parrikar on April 21, 2016. While addressing the Naval Commanders and the top leadership of IN, RM complimented all personnel of the Indian Navy for ensuring the maritime security of the country through a high tempo of operations. He especially commended the Navy for the outstanding conduct of Combined Commanders' Conference on board INS Vikramaditya off Kochi during December 2015 and the successful conduct of the International Fleet Review at Visakhapatnam in February 2016. He also appreciated the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief efforts of IN in the aftermath of the floods in Chennai as well as the recent fire tragedy at Puttingal temple near Kollam in Kerala. He assured the Commanders of the government's commitment to the modernisation and development plans of the Indian Navy. He further appreciated the efforts of IN in the recent initiative to grant permanent commission to the first batch of women officers and also induction of women as pilots in the Maritime Reconnaissance stream of Naval Aviation and Naval Armament Inspectorate cadre.
The rest of the Sessions of the Naval Commanders' Conference held from April 21 to April 23, 2016 were presided over by Admiral RK Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS). CNS addressed the Navy's top leadership on myriad issues, ranging from enhancing the operational readiness of the Commands, infrastructure development, human resource management, coastal security, cyber security and foreign cooperation initiatives.
CNS reiterated the core thrust areas and exhorted the importance of the C3I model — i.e. Commitment, Compassion, Credibility and Integrity — to keep focus on defined goals and steer the Navy on the correct track, which he had stressed on taking over the CNS. He was very satisfied with the progress made over the past two years and complimented the rank and file of IN for successfully overcoming several challenges and navigating steadily through the way points which were set. He highlighted that the Navy has contributed significantly to the nation's geopolitical and developmental aspirations and that has been accepted and acknowledged at the highest level of our government.
Emphasising that combat readiness of the fleet and other operational formations is of prime importance, he reiterated that focused efforts, as hitherto, are required at all levels to ensure sustained growth of the Navy into a formidable multi-dimensional force. The CNS complimented all ranks of the Navy in maintaining a high tempo of operations during the last six months including the very successful International Fleet review (IFR) held at Visakhapatnam in February 2016, apart from a number of other notable operational activities such as the first Combined Commanders' Conference on board INS Vikramaditya in December 2015.
Among the focus areas discussed during the Conference were aspects pertaining to training, skill development and welfare of retiring personnel who constitute a vital resource for the nation. He also reviewed the progress of housing infrastructure projects for naval personnel. Consequent to 2016 being observed as the 'Year of Civilian Personnel', the service conditions of civilian personnel and their quality of life were deliberated extensively. CNS reminded that our men and women are our greatest assets and their morale and well-being should always remain the primary concern. He also highlighted the grant of permanent commission to women officers as a major milestone in the IN's hiStory.
The indigenisation programme of the Navy was discussed and CNS stressed that indigenisation of platforms, weapons, sensors and equipment, through DRDO, public and private sectors as also through in-house efforts, should remain an area of focus. He highlighted the successful conduct of the recently held IN-FICCI joint Seminar on 'The Make in India Paradigm - Roadmap for a Future Ready Naval Force' where a very healthy and enthusiastic participation from the various stake holders and Indian industry was witnessed.
During the course of the Conference, the progress of airfield infrastructure, security of Naval Air Stations, dockyards and naval establishments was reviewed. In addition metrological and oceanographic initiatives being undertaken in support of naval operations were also discussed.
CNS also reviewed the improvements being made to the logistics delivery chain and the implementation of e-procurement in the Indian Navy. He emphasized the need for constant review and refinement of IN's logistics support structures to ensure that its combat units and formations receive quality logistics support while maintaining a high operational tempo.
One of the highlights of the Conference was the opportunity Naval Commanders and the top leadership had to interact with the MoD officials, wherein issues pertaining to joint operations, military synergy and other important ongoing issues were discussed.
In his closing address CNS complimented all personnel for their professionalism and patriotism, and exhorted them to prepare the IN to meet the future maritime security challenges before the country. "We must continue to pull on the oars together, to propel the navy forward, and contribute to a strong and prosperous maritime nation" he stated. He expressed confidence that the Navy would continue to grow from strength to strength in the coming years and emphasised that operational effectiveness and readiness should be the touchstone of all the efforts. He concluded by stating that the Navy's role is not only vital for national security, but also for national prosperity and development.