The recent incidents at Galwan and other parts on the LAC have got senior defence officials worried about the Andamans.
Many feel the archipelago, nearly 700 nautical miles from the mainland, remains at risk from People’s Liberation Army Navy.
The Chinese navy has been active in the region, surveillance has established. While most Chinese vessels, including submarines, have lurked close to India’s territorial waters, some had to be driven away.
“The Galwan incident and PLA’s build-up along LAC are indicative of China’s mindset from the start. China doesn’t want a full-scale conflict with India. In Galwan, they suffered casualties and this will be hard to digest for the Chinese. They will not try anything more at LAC but will look at other avenues.
China has already launched artificial islands and floating landmasses that are actually military bases. Countries like China are on the lookout for islands they can put to use strategically. In the Andamans, we have such islands but fail to understand their potential,” a senior Navy official said.
The Indian mainland is actually further away from A&N than South China Sea over which China claims control. Moreover, rushing in assets will require planning and have to be guided by the prevalent weather.
Senior Navy officers say the Andamans and Nicobar Tri-Services Command requires capital ships, including missile frigates and even destroyers. At least 3-4 P-8I long range surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft should also be deployed there for constant patrolling.
Vice-Admiral (retd) P K Chatterjee, former commander-in-chief, Andamans and Nicobar Command and the senior-most submariner in the country when he retired, believes the Andamans needs to be paid more attention.