First National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC)

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First National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC) , G Ashok Kumar has been appointed as India’s first national maritime security coordinator by the government. The government of India has taken the decisive move to ensure reliability on security and its objective to strengthen the country’s maritime security. The appointment of G Ashok Kumar, who is a former Navy vice chief, is seen as part of India’s consistent efforts to bolster its maritime security following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack 14 years back when a group of sea-borne terrorists struck at the heart of the country’s financial capital.

About NMSC

The NMSC (National Maritime Security Coordinator) will be working with coordination with the National Security Council Secretariat which is headed by NSA Ajit Doval. The main task will be given to NMSC to make coordination among the Indian Navy, the Coast Guard, security agencies those tangled in coastal and maritime security and 13 coastal states and Union Territories.

About Vice- Admiral G Ashok Kumar

He served as the nation’s 35th Navy Vice Chief.

Ashok Kumar joined the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy on 1 July 1982. He has been an alumnus of Sainik School in Amravati Nagar and National Defense Academy located in Pune. Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar specialised in Shipping and Operations at Kochi in 1989. Thereafter, he was posted as a Shipping Officer in the Indian Navy ships Beas, Nilgiris, Ranvir and Vikrant. He took over as the Vice Chief of the Indian Navy on 30 January 2019. He retired on 31 July 2021 after serving in various positions in the Indian Navy for 39 years.

His important stint at sea included Staff Officer (Operations/ND) in the Indian Naval Work-up Team, Chief of the Training Team (Chief of the Navy) at the Defense Services Staff College, Wellington, Defense Advisor at the High Commission of India in Singapore and the Western Navy. The Command includes the Chief Staff Officer (Operations).

Ashok Kumar is a graduate of Defense Services Staff College, Wellington and has joined the Army Higher Command course in Mau, besides the Expeditionary Operations course at Quantico, Virginia, USA.

Why NMSC needed

The need for such a coordinating agency was first expressed by the Group of Ministers formed after the Kargil War. The GoM had recommended in its report that an “apex body for management of maritime affairs should be formed for institutionalised linkages between the Navy, Coast Guard and the concerned Ministries of the Central and the State Governments”, and had asked the Defence Ministry to “take necessary action to constitute the apex body”.

After the 26/11 terror attacks in 2008, the Defence Ministry had proposed the creation of a Maritime Security Advisory Board, and appointment of a Maritime Security Advisor, but that was kept pending.

In November 2021, the Cabinet Committee on Security finally cleared the creation of the NMSC.

The Navy has also proposed development of a National Maritime Domain Awareness Center, which will be a multi-agency body including the Navy, Coast Guard, intelligence agencies, state marine police forces, ministries of Shipping, Ports and Fisheries among others for a stronger integration for maritime security.