Aman Exercise-2021: A Success Story- Daily Notable
From John Spykman to Robert Kaplan the Rimland has being a focus of world politics. Thanks to the emergence of globalization and the global trade which is mainly dependent on maritime navigation, the littoral states in Indian Ocean Region (IOR) have more to rely on this aspect, given their massive manufacturing economic outlook and dominance of energy security.
Add to this, the rise of Asian powers like China, India and Indonesia and their massive maritime dependence, has made this region one of the core maritime concentrations.
Further, contemporary phenomenon of geopolitics, like countering China and Iran with maximum pressure, continues competition among regional powers, confrontation of state actors with NSAs and chances of spillover of conflicts from the mainland to the maritime domain, are furthering the already complex situation.
On a Geo-economics perspective, initiatives like the Chinese-led maritime silk route, China’s African vision 2064, Indian look Africa policy etc are increasing dependence of growing economies on energy resources of western Indian Ocean.
Cognizant to significance, United States, United Kingdom, China and now Russia have their military bases in the region to not only exert power at the geopolitical realm but to counter non-traditional threats like piracy, arms and human trafficking, narco networks etc.
With the increasing reliance of South Asian states on Middle Eastern energy supplies to fuel their export-based economies along with rising maritime traffic in the IOR, this region has provided a hotspot to the Non-State-Actors to exploit the maritime cleavages and chokepoints.
Owing to the highly inter-linked global trade, the non-traditional maritime threats have raised up to the level that a collective response of the state-led naval cooperation has become a need of the hour.
With this in mind, Pakistan Navy (PN) has the most important role to play in the collaborative maritime security of the region. If history is a prism then PN is continuously participating in the global maritime stability initiatives; such as Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 and 151 under UN mandate.
Recently, Pakistan has again assumed the command of CTF-151 having commanded this force eight times earlier. Further, Pakistan Navy is an epicenter in the complex maritime environment, due to the critical geography of its critical maritime area, ports and being a major partner of the China-led BRI initiative.
PN not only played a proactive role through collaborative maritime initiatives but also contributed with its independent initiative like RMSP (Regional Maritime Security Petrol) to preserve its maritime interest while maintaining the regional maritime order.
The manifestation of these engagements is the result of PN’s operational readiness.
Keeping in view the complex matrix vis-à-vis enhanced isolationism and anti multilateralism in the region, PN has initiated a hallmark ‘AMAN’ Exercises with the sole purpose of maintaining regional maritime order, exchanging interoperability with the participant naval fleets, maintaining operational readiness, and enhancing the existing naval diplomacy worldwide while projecting the positive image of Pakistan.
At initial level, it seemed to be an over-ambitious project to launch these exercises against Pakistan’s adversaries’ policies and politics of isolating Islamabad on each forum. Nevertheless, since 2007, each AMAN Exercise which conducts biennially has been expanding its web by including more regional and extra-regional naval forces to participate.
Through expanding its AMAN Exercise stature, Pakistan has already signaled its adversaries that isolating Pakistan in the maritime domain can’t be pursued. Participation of the world’s stronger naval power’s fleets including US, China, Japan, and Russia, etc with more than 40 participating countries; 6th AMAN Exercise is definitely a success story.
By definition, AMAN has connotes peace neither the offensive agenda nor the Gun Boat Diplomacy’s aspirations. The AMAN Exercise is divided into two phases; the Harbour phase and Sea phase.
The Harbour phase includes both formal and informal activities, focuses on exchanging participant’s ideas and displaying their cultures, while Sea phase is concentrated on drills such as International Fleet Review (IFR) and Gun Firing evolutions etc.
The harbour phase comprises over number of conferences, seminars, workshops, and IHDs on topics of contemporary significance. In Sea Phase, participant fleets conduct real time operational and tactical practices, to sharpen and strengthen their response in an environment of multi-domain threat.
The sea phase also provides an opportunity to operate and increase skill levels of each other. The phase provides the participating units an opportunity to operate under various scenarios while undertaking multiple evolutions together, thereby enhancing interoperability amongst multiple platforms of different navies.
As the threat has evolved into multifarious shapes, given its hybrid nature, the state-led maritime response should also be multi domain in nature. Hence, AMAN Exercise is a step in the right direction owing to the changing maritime environment in the IOR specifically in this age of great power politics.
If we dig in AMAN series of naval exercises, we will find that it’s a common forum for information sharing, mutual understanding and identifying areas of common interest among its participants while practicing and developing response tactics, techniques, and procedures against asymmetric and traditional threats.
Such multinational exercises not only create stability and understanding between nations but also provide an opportunity to reinforce political, economic, commercial, and cultural, linkages among the participating countries.
Keeping in view the significance and efforts put in by Pakistan Navy, there is a dire need that the Military to Military contact established through 7th AMAN Exercise, to be held in February 2021, is transformed into diplomatic, economic and informational success.
Henceforth, it would not only be emerged as counter against the non-traditional maritime threats through the joint maritime cooperation in this critical maritime confluence of IOR but will also project Pakistan an epicenter of all global collaborative efforts of peace and prosperity while nullifying our enemy’s desire to isolate us through its false and illicit propaganda.