Two decades after the recommendation by the Kargil Group of Ministers (GoM), the Union government is set to appoint a National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC) to interface between the civilian and military maritime domains with the objective of enhancing India's security architecture and energy security. The maritime security coordinator will work under the National Security Adviser (NSA), and be the principal advisor to the government on maritime security domain, people familiar with the matter said.
According to officials in South Block who asked not to be named, the ministry of defence and military affairs has sought the Union Cabinet's approval to create post of NMSC, and a serving or recently retired Vice Admiral of the Indian Navy is likely to be appointed to the role. NMSC has been a long-pending requirement since the Kargil GoM recommended it, and its need was most felt during the 2008 Mumbai attack, when maritime security agencies were unable to thwart the intrusion by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) gunmen from Pakistan.
The appointment of NMSC will fill the need of the hour as the Navy, Coast Guard, and state maritime boards tend to work in silos with overlapping jurisdictions and are constantly at odds with each other, experts said.
While India has suffered from sea blindness over the years with land-based security doctrines, historically and geostrategically, it has 7,000km of coastline and over 2 million km of exclusive economic zone. Over 70% of Indian trade, including vital crude oil, is transported through sea, and the protection of sea shipping lanes is vital to India's security with the Narendra Modi government on June 16 clearing the Deep Ocean Mission for blue water economy.
With China moving towards a sea-based security doctrine and penetrating into the Indian Ocean through Pakistan and Myanmar, the post of NMSC will be vital for maritime and energy security as Beijing plans to reach to eastern sea board of Africa through Indian maritime domain, security experts said.
The creation of NMSC is part of PM Modi's Act East Policy vision, that also includes SAGAR (Security and Growth of All in the Region), the Deep Ocean Mission, and the Sagarmala project to make India's 12 major ports world class.