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Indian Navy Launches Information Fusion Centre To Boost Maritime Security

The IFC-Indian Ocean Region is initially being launched as a virtual construct wherein information exchange will be done electronically through the Internet.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday inaugurated the Indian Navy's Information Fusion Centre (IFC) that aims to collaborate with partner countries and multinational agencies to develop maritime awareness and share information, especially on commercial cargo vessels.

Speaking at the inauguration, Ms Sitharaman said the objective of having an IFC-Indian Ocean Region is more for partners to work towards keeping the global commons safe.

The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is vital to world trade and economic prosperity of many countries as more than 75 per cent of the world's maritime trade and 50 per cent of global oil consumption passes through it.

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, who was also present at the event, said India aims to work closely with the multinational constructs and other Information Fusion Centres through this new centre.

Additionally, the IFC-Indian Ocean Region would work towards capability-building in the region, coordination of incident response and disaster relief, and in time, also share submarine safety information, he said.

A worrying trend, Admiral Lanba pointed out, has been the proliferation of violent non-state actors and networks at sea which harbours numerous challenges and demands a recalibrated outlook to collective maritime security.

He listed maritime piracy and maritime terrorism as the two major ways in which the non-state actors threaten to jeopardise the security of the maritime domain with a direct influence on land affairs.

"Addressing these myriad challenges requires a very high level of Maritime Domain Awareness and an appropriate mechanism to predict, prevent and respond to contingencies," the Navy chief Admiral added.

However, the scale, scope and multi-national nature of maritime activities make it difficult for countries to address these challenges individually, he noted.

"The only way to optimally harness our individual strength is through collaborative and cooperative efforts, of which the IFC-IOR is a shining example," he said.

"The endeavour here is to collate all the information which is available in the global commons in the IOR, have a common maritime domain awareness and share the information with partner nations. It is going to be a joint collaborative approach where information from partner nations will be collated, all incidents at sea will be collated and we will share this," Admiral Lanba said.

The information exchange at the IFC-IOR would be initially undertaken by virtual means, using telephone calls, fax, emails and video-conferencing over Internet.

Subsequently, to enable better interaction, quicker analysis of information and provide timely inputs, the IFC-IOR would host Liaison Officers from partner countries, he said.

Some ten countries have shown interest to be a part of the project. Envoys of several countries, including the US, Japan, Australia, Thailand, and defence attaches were present at the event.  

Alexandre Ziegler, France's Envoy to India tweeted, "Congratulations for the launch of the Information Fusion Centre Indian Ocean Region. Proud to work closely with towards the safety, prosperity and stability of the Indian Ocean Region, in line with the Joint Strategic Vision adopted by our 2 leaders in March 2018."

India and France are working to launch a constellation of maritime surveillance for the Indian Ocean Region.

Source: NDTV

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