Kolkata: Effectiveness of the coastal security mechanism along the coasts of West Bengal and Odisha was validated through a two-day-long exercise ‘Sagar Kavach’ that ended on Friday.
The exercise was conducted by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) in conjunction with the Indian Navy, Army Air Defence College Gopalpur, Marine and State police forces of West Bengal and Odisha, CISF, Integrated Test Range/Proof and Experimental Establishment Chandipur, Forest and Fisheries Departments, Customs, Ports in both states, Lighthouses, immigration departments and intelligence agencies, both central and state.
“Such exercises are essential to evaluate threats emanating from seaward in the present geo-political scenario and validate existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of all stakeholders. The exercise was also important to check the efficacy of layered security arrangements. Air-surveillance and deep-sea patrolling is carried out by ICG aircraft and larger vessels. Close-coast patrolling is done by ICG interceptor boats as well as vessels of the marine police, CISF, Customs and forest department,” a senior ICG official from Coast Guard Headquarters Region North East said.
Participants were divided into Red and Blue Teams. Members of the Red or ‘attack’ team were to act as anti-national elements and infiltrate into the coastal area while Blue Team members established coastal security surveillance. Ships, patrol boats and aircraft of ICG, Indian Navy, Border Security Force, marine police, CISF and Customs were deployed at sea while land-forces maintained watch on shore. The exercise checked the alertness of personnel and the state of their equipment to check any incursion by non-state actors. There was a seamless flow of communications between all levels.
“Real time threats were simulated. This included unauthorised access of vessels at sea by using commandeered fishing boats, capture of high value targets, port security, hostage crises and infiltration through creeks. Such exercises have become mandatory after the 2008 Mumbai terror strike.