India looks to deploy naval liaisons at Madagascar, Abu Dhabi for information exchange

After joining the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) as Observer in March, India is looking to post Navy Liaison Officers at the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre(RMIFC) in Madagascar and also at the European maritime surveil-lance initiative in the Strait of Hormuz for improved Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).

“We are working closely with France who is a pre-eminent member of IOC to post a Naval LO at the RMIFC in Mada-gascar. We are also working on posting a Naval LO at the European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) in Abu Dhabi,” a defence source told The Hindu.

“This will be in the overall realm of improving linkages of the Navy’s InformationFusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) in Gurugram with other IFCs and become the repository for all maritime.

The RMFIC functions under the aegis of the IOC of which India became an Observer in March 2020 along with Japan and the United Nations.The IOC is a regional forum in the southwest Indian Ocean, comprising five nations —Comoros, France (Reunion), Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles. China and the European Union (EU) have been Observers in the IOC since 2016 and 2017, respectively.

The EMASOH headquarters is composed of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and French officers and based at the French naval base in Abu Dhabi. The aim is “to monitor maritime activity and guarantee freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.” On February 5, the initiative was declared operational by the French Ministry of Armed Forces. Of late, India has signed a series of white shipping agreements, Logistics Support Agreements (LSA) and maritime co-operation agreements with several countries. For instance, at the virtual summit, India and Australia announced a joint declaration on a shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in which they agreed to “deepen navy-to-navy cooperation and strengthen MDA in the Indo-Pacific region through enhanced exchange of information”.

As reported by The Hindu in October last, the IFC-IOR is coordinating with similar centres across the globe. These include Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Centre (VRMTC), Maritime Security Centre-Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), Regional Coop-eration Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery (ReCAAP), Information Fusion Centre-Singapore (IFC-SG), and International Maritime Bureau -Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC).Source: