Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at Andaman and Nicobar Command, the only operational joint services command of the country in Port Blair on Thursday evening (All images courtesy: PIB/Ministry of Defence)
In an important message delivered from India’s only Quad-Service, Integrated Theatre Command in Andaman and Nicobar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said that the country’s Armed Forces will soon be amongst the strongest militaries of the world.
As he arrived on a two-day visit to the islands on Thursday, his first to Indira Point since January 2019, Singh assured that the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making all efforts to increase the efficiency and strength of the Armed Forces.
“Under the guidance of our Prime Minister, we have taken a firm step forward towards self-reliance. We have made giant strides towards realising ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ vision.
“Our Armed Forces will soon be among the strongest militaries of the world. This is our vision as well as our mission,” he stated while addressing the officers and jawans at ‘Bada Khana’ in Port Blair.
The Defence Minister is visiting the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) soon after touring Arunachal Pradesh.
Both visits have a strong China angle. Singh’s presence in Arunachal Pradesh was to boost troop morale, push infrastructure and convey a message to China that Arunachal is an integral part of India.
His visit to the ANC also carries a message to Beijing. By reinforcing India’s presence in the region, India is conveying its resolve not to allow the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to undermine its interests in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The 21-year-old successful Integrated Theatre Command, which has served as a template for theatreisation of the Armed Forces now being planned at the national level, is not only carrying forward the government’s Act East Policy but also realising PM Modi’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) by building ‘Bridges of Friendship’ with India’s maritime neighbours.
Sitting astride some of the world’s busiest Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs), most carrying strategic cargo for East Asian economies through the Malacca straits linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the islands offer a vital geo-strategic advantage to India.
Besides providing the country with a commanding presence in the Bay of Bengal, they also serve as India’s window into East and South East Asia.
In October 2021, India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) late General Bipin Rawat – the man behind preparing the blueprint for the formation of five Integrated Theatre Commands – spotlighted that the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) not only enhances the capability to defend national interests on the strategic islands and its vast associated maritime domain but also deters inimical forces.
“Over the last two decades, consecutive teams under the able leadership of Commanders-in-Chief from the Army, Navy and Air Force have assiduously built up this well-knit and Integrated Command. Today, the Command stands proud as a potent force to reckon with in a region that is under intense scrutiny on the World map,” the late CDS said in his message on the occasion of the 21st Raising Day of the Command.
On Thursday, as he reviewed the preparedness of the only operational joint services command of the country to take on a wide and varied spectrum of threats, the Defence Minister was given an extensive briefing by the Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN) Lieutenant General Ajai Singh on the geo-strategic potential of the islands and the role they can play towards enhancing India’s influence and support to military operations in the area.
Singh also visited the ANC Joint Operations Centre (JOC) which is the nerve centre for integrated planning for surveillance, the conduct of operations and logistic support.
Addressing the Armed Forces personnel at ‘Bada Khana’ in Port Blair. https://t.co/21iMWc5x5G
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) January 5, 2023
The Defence Ministry in a statement issued late Thursday stated that apart from the strategic signalling in view of the proximity of these far-flung islands to the Indo-Pacific, the minister’s visit to ANC motivated the troops deployed in the distant and remote islands.
In his address, Singh commended the Command for strengthening national security and keeping the maritime domain safe and secure, while playing a significant role in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. He also lauded their bravery and enthusiasm for being alert and ready 24X7 for the security of the islands and the Exclusive Economic Zone.
“Since 2001, the Andaman and Nicobar Command has significantly enhanced its operational capabilities, which reflects its indomitable spirit and commitment,” he said while exuding confidence that the courage and dedication of the Armed Forces will create a golden future for the country.
The Defence Minister will also visit ANC units at Campbell Bay, Carnic and Diglipur where he would be interacting with troops.
Situated at a distance of about 300 nm from Port Blair, the strategic INS Baaz Naval Air Station located at Campbell Bay on the Great Nicobar Island, is the southernmost air station of the Indian armed forces overlooking the Strait of Malacca.
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