Coastal Security III
 Source : News Bharati  Date : 20-Dec-2011

THE DEFICIENCIES OF COASTAL SECURITY

- Brig Hemant Mahajan,YSM,(Retd)

ARE WE SAFER ONE YEAR AFTER 26/11?REVIEW OF COASTAL SECURITY - Part 3

 Part 3: the deficiencies of coastal security

$img_titleDuring IPKF operations in Shree Lanka attempt was made to seal Shree Lankan coast. We failed. There are certain inadequacies in the coastal security mechanism, making it incapable of preventing infiltration.

 

Non Implementation of Coastal Plan

The progress on most aspects was very little & negligible

(a)  ISPS implemented only partially.
(b)  Radar cover along coast line will take very long time.
(c)  Progress on implementation of AIS is very slow , negligible for vessels below 300 tons.
(d)  Net working of Navy, Coast Guard, Police, Intelligence agencies still far away.
(e)  Coast Guard Lead Intelligence Agency. Still does not have adequate qualified personnel on ground.MAC is not effective.
(f)   Container Security Initiative is nowhere in sight.

Insufficient Manpower

$img_titleIn 2006, the Maharashtra government sanctioned a mere 530 posts for the coastal police force& filled 312. Following the Mumbai attacks, the Maharashtra sanctioned 932 new posts (for 720 KMs coast).Similar is the case with all coastal states.

The Coast Guard too faces manpower shortage. It suffers from a deficiency of 20-25 % in the officers’, 30 % in sailors and 20 % among civilian staff. At present, 2,973 personnel are responsible for manning the entire western region covering a 3,300-kmlong coastline and roughly a million square kilo meters of the EEZ. The  Navy withdrew from joint patrolling in 2006 citing a manpower crunch.

Poor Training

Personnel sent by the state police for training are otherwise misfit to perform regular duties. As a result, all coastal police stations have only a handful of trained personnel. Even those policemen sent for training claim that duration of training is in adequate. As a result, they express lack of confidence in venturing out into the sea. Lack of ethos is also manifested in the attitude of the police towards coastal security duties. They are extremely reluctant to undertake coastal patrolling because of Seasickness & multiple reasons.

Inadequate Infrastructure and Equipment

The Coast Guard,  is woefully short of patrol boats and aircraft. Presently it has only 15 patrol vessels, nine interceptor boats, eight interceptor craft and two hovercraft to patrol the the Arabian Sea whereas it requires a fleet of 50 ships and 36 aircraft to comfortably guard the coast and the sea. Most coastal police stations in Maharashtra operate without a proper office building, check posts, watch towers, etc.  

Systemic Flaws

$img_titleThese include inter- and intra-agency confusion about areas of jurisdiction and lack of coordination, laws and procedures. This fact is quite evident in the case of joint coastal patrolling, which takes place at fixed times every day precisely because of the inability to co-ordinate at short notice. Patrols at pre-fixed times take away the element of surprise given that everyone in the locality has prior knowledge about the exact time and route taken by the patrolling vessels. Despite the 1993 experience, the Maharashtra did not accord any priority to coastal security. The Navy does not have suitable vessels for patrolling .Coast Guard is not under command of Navy. Coast Guard the Lead Int Agency does not have any worthwhile int setup .Thus, lack of ‘actionable’ intelligence is not the only factor that led to the breach of India’s coastal security in November 2008.The mechanism suffers from various inadequacies and deficiencies, and systemic flaws.

Part 4: Additional Measures Announced By The Government In Response To 26/11

The Mumbai terror attack compelled the central government to announce a slew of measures to revamp coastal security, including:

  • Entrusting the responsibility of guarding the coast to the Coast Guard and overall responsibility for maritime security to the Navy.
  • Augmenting manpower and assets of those involved in coastal security
  • Creation of Sagar Prahari Bal (means Coast Security Force which includes early procurement of interceptor boats, offshore vessels and helicopters.
  • Installation of transponders on all sea faring vessels establishment of a chain of radars and AIS (automatic identification system) along the coastline to track approaching vessels.
  • Issue of unique identity cards to all coastal villagers establishment of joint operation centres for coordination in intelligence sharing.

MOD Initiatives

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A 15,000 crores plan has been made to strengthen the Navy and the Coast Guard by increasing their manpower as well as like ships, boats, helicopters, aircrafts, etc. 80 interceptor crafts will be procured by Navy for sea patrolling. Nobody even talked about utterly wrong appreciation over the years by the Navy, Which was obsessed with blue water & were outsmarted by the wily ISI & LET in the brown water .So much was the public uproar on the incidence, that the Home Minister of the country had to resign .However no enquiry was ordered by the MOD & RS 15,000 Crore plan was passed without a parliamentary debate.

Poor Implementation

The implementation of these measures is fraught with hurdles .A year later, only a handful of these measures have been fully implemented. These include the operationalisation of four joint operation centres at Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi and Port Blair, the setting up of a new regional Coast Guard HQ at Gandhinagar, the establishment of 64 coastal police stations, and providing 42 interceptor boats to coastal police stations. Other measures such as the establishment of the radar network, constitution of sagar prahari baI, acquisition of interceptor boats, offshore patrol vessels and helicopters for the Coast Guard and Navy, are yet to be implemented. The creation of a Maritime Advisory Board with a Maritime Advisor still remains on paper. The issue of lack of coordination between various agencies involved in coastal security also remains unaddressed.

The Coast Guard is on an expansion spree, without producing any worthwhile results on ground. The Indian Navy is still not mentally ready to enter the brown waters & is obsessed with blue water operations .What would have happened if LET had targeted  HQ Western Naval Command or Navy Nagar? The Police feel that they are a land based force & should not take on coastal security.


In next part we will cover the following

Additional Measures

The Central government needs to:

(a)  Clearly spell out the areas of jurisdiction and responsibilities of different agencies
(b)  Establish effective command and control system.
(c)  Streamline processes and procedures of procurement.
(d)  Ensure the Navy and the Coast Guard perform their tasks at sea under appropriate legislative powers.


About Brig. Hemant Mahajan

$img_titleBrigadier Heman Mahajan (YSM) joined armed forces since 1973. Started his military life as an officer with the ‘7 Maratha Light Infantry’. Brig. Mahajan has served in the most sensitive areas like Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, North Eastern states. Importantly Brig. Mahajan had an experience of serving his duty in highest and tough warzone like Kargil, handling peace situation in furious Punjab after the ‘Operational Blue Star’ and the Ayodhya region. Along with ‘Youth Seva Medal’, Brig. Mahajan is recipient of various Military awards for his excellent track record.