NSC hosts inaugural regional maritime domain awareness workshop in Delhi

19 June 2024

Australia’s interests in the Indian Ocean region were outlined at the 2024 Indian Ocean Conference held in Perth, by the Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong. She said Australia wanted a region that is peaceful and predictable, that is governed by accepted rules and norms, where all of us can cooperate, trade and thrive. The Minister stated that rather than a closed, hierarchical region, we want a region characterised by openness and transparency.

To advance those interests the NSC has been engaged by DFAT to undertake a series of workshops in India and South Asia that bring together maritime domain awareness (MDA) practitioners from around the Indian Ocean region, along with experts from Asia, Europe and the United States. These workshops focus on different aspects of sharing of maritime intelligence among Indian Ocean countries.

The NSC team is led by Dr David Brewster, with support from former Australian defence attaché to India, Captain Simon Bateman (retd), and NSC Expert Associate, Dr Anthony Bergin.

The first workshop was held in Delhi on 11-12 June, in association with local partners, National Maritime Foundation.
It involved around 50 MDA practitioners from the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), hosted by the Indian Navy, regional information fusion centres in Singapore, Madagascar, Seychelles and Pacific Fusion Centre in Port Vila, regional and international groupings such as UNODC, IOC and IORA, and national MDA centres operated by the Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives navies/coast guard.

The workshop theme was enhancing existing institutional arrangements for MDA information sharing around the region. It was the first time that the regional organisations listed above had been brought together to discuss these issues.
The workshop included: - presentations by regional information fusion centres in the Indian Ocean region.
- case studies of national MDA systems and processes from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives. - new options for regional information sharing and the future of MDA, including the use of the many new tools becoming available.
A special workshop address was given by RADM Rahul Shankar, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff in the Indian Navy, that looked at utilisation of space and advanced/ emerging technologies for MDA. Participants gained much from a site visit to the IFC-IOR during the workshop.

The next NSC workshop is planned to be held in Colombo in November 2024 and will focus on the impact of new technologies and challenges in regional information sharing. This will include discussions on new earth observation sensing technologies, undersea domain awareness and the protection of maritime critical infrastructure.

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