India, South Africa, Brazil Begin Joint Naval Exercise
The BRICS countries minus the big superpowers China and Russia are taking stock of their military preparedness and engaging in joint naval and military exercises. The Indian Navy is currently conducting the IBSAMAR military exercise which also includes Brazil and South Africa. This is the fifth edition of this particular exercise, which has always been conducted off South African waters thus far. The exercise will begin on February 19, Friday, and will continue till February 29, Monday.
According to a statement from the Indian Navy, the exercise is essentially geared towards anti-submarine warfare, surface and air-to-air missile defenses, search and seizure operations and search and rescue operations. Ships, aircraft carriers, planes, helicopters and submarines are involved in this huge exercise.
IBSAMAR began in 2006, and is only one of many military exercises that India is engaging in. Besides its bilateral exercises with the United States, and trilateral operations with Japan and Australia, India also conducted its second international fleet review recently, in which 55 countries including China, South Africa and the United States were present. This heightened exercise calendar is due in part to threats to India's security from China, and its desire to become a global arms manufacturing hub and exporter. India also was present at the recent Bahrain Airshow, where it showed off its indigenously built Light Combat Aircraft Tejas.
South Africa is meanwhile flexing its muscles and trying to grow independent of China's clout, on which it is highly dependent financially. South Africa's economy is staggering under economic downturn and its military funding is being cut year-by-year. It is looking for cheaper sources for arms and gear. South Africa has always emphasized a strong military as a deterrent towards other nations. Even the country's first President Nelson Mandela repeatedly spoke about the need for a strong military in independent South Africa. In fact, as President of the African National Congress in the 1960s, before he was imprisoned under the apartheid regime for 27 years, Mandela referred to the need for a strong armed force to ensure the nation's sovereignty in the current atmosphere of the world. One of Mandela's quotes about freedom also speaks of military.
The IBSAMAR military exercises involving India, Brazil and South Africa began, for the first time off the west coast of India, Friday, the Indian Navy said in a statement. According to the statement, the exercises will end on February 29. The exercises are taking place close to Goa. "The thrust of exercises at sea this year would be on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Surface firings, Air Defences, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS), Flying Operations, Search and Rescue and tactical procedures," the statement reads. The three countries began holding the IBSAMAR exercises in 2006. This is the fifth round of the drills. All previous exercises were held in South Africa. This year, the IBSAMAR exercises will involve ships, submarines, aircraft and special forces.