Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework for
Effective Blue Frontiers in the Indo-Pacific Strategic Space

About Event

The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the South China Sea (SCS) have attained significant strategic relevance in the 21st century for multiple reasons than one. More and more global powers want to maintain their strategic presence in the region and claim their stake in the global power play. The Indo-Pacific Strategic Space has multiple aspects to it, including political, socio-economic and military. Extra-regional powers are increasingly deploying their maritime forces and research vessels in the region to ensure enhanced Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). More nuanced collaboration is the need of the hour and suitable frameworks are required. Europe and some of the developed nations in the west could collaborate with India and build partnerships.
The traditional MDA got significant push, post the 9/11 incident and the American establishment made it a high priority strategic objective. Massive maritime infrastructure and capacity building efforts took shape within the US and through their allies to ensure effective MDA. In India, post the 26/11 incident, similar efforts were initiated and the MDA infrastructure got prioritized in the IOR. However, in both the cases, being an event driven initiative, it remained a security centric formulation with minimal penetration with the other stakeholders. The MDA that we see today is largely limited to the sea surface and the underwater component is still a work in progress, even in the US led effort. The Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA), should be considered as a mere extension of the MDA. The knowhow required is completely different and specific domain knowledge is required to drive a nuanced awareness initiative.
The UDA in the tropical littoral waters of the Indo-Pacific Strategic Space has some unique challenges and opportunities. The sub-optimal sonar performance is a major impediment to any UDA initiative. The socio-economic status of the nations in the region is another major road block for maritime governance and also prioritizing S&T for enhancing sonar performance with indigenous efforts is a cause of concern. The extra-regional powers continue to push their hardware with least performance in the tropical littoral waters. “Digital Oceans” today can have a far greater relevance particularly in the tropical littoral waters. The UDA initiative will require complete sociopolitical and geo-strategic synergy to manage the challenges & opportunities.
The UDA framework proposed by the Maritime Research Centre (MRC), Pune tries to encourage pooling of resources and synergizing of efforts across the four stakeholders, namely the maritime security, blue economy, environment & disaster management and the science & technology providers. The framework can minimize the ongoing fragmented approach across stakeholders within the nations and also among the nations in the region. Acoustic capacity and capability building becomes the most critical component of effective UDA. Geo-economics will play a greater role given the level of globalization that is required to drive the safe, secure, sustainable growth model and effectively manage the challenges and opportunities of strategic security and blue economy in the Indo-Pacific Strategic Space.

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    The Maritime Research Center (MRC), Pune is a not-for-profit, Section 8 company registered with the Registrar of Companies (RoC), as Foundation for Underwater Domain Awareness.

    Contact Information

    Address: Aquamarine A3, 203, Nyati Esteban, Undri, Pune – 411060
    Email: director.mrc@foundationforUDA.in

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    The conventional approach of each of the stakeholders pursuing their own UDA* efforts has serious limitations given the highly resource intensive field experimental research initiative required for a long period. Click here for more