Port Blair: India is planning to convert its
Andaman and Nicobar tri-services command into an major
amphibious warfare hub by setting up full-fledged training
facilities and basing a sea-and-land fighting unit to provide
teeth to its capability to take the battle into enemy shores.
With over 550 islands dotting the strategically located
spot in the Bay of Bengal with near 500 of them still
uninhabited, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands provide the
Indian armed forces the ideal landscape to train its troops on
amphibious warfare, which entails landing on the beaches of
the enemy territory and taking the gun fight right into the
"There are plans to have an amphibious warfare training
facility in the Andaman and Nicobar islands just as the jungle
and guerrilla warfare school that the Army has in the North
"The hundreds of virgin islands here provide the ideal
training facility for the troops to gain expertise in the
specialist operations," a senior officer from the Andaman and
Nicobar Command said here.
The tri-services command here, which came up in 2001 after
a need for a joint all-service formation was felt, already has
surface units to support amphibious operations, which are
difficult manoeuvres considering that the troops are exposed
to greater risks while entering open landscape in hostile
The Command here already has naval surface vessels such as
a large Landing Ship Tank (LST) that can carry about 220 fully
armed troops along with six trucks, 10 main battle tanks and
12 infantry combat vehicles at the same time for long
duration. In fact, it could carry 800-men battalion too for
The vessel also has a medium LST, apart from several
Landing Craft Utility (LCU) with capacity to carry 35 armed
troops right up to the beach and land there, the officer said.
The LST’s support is very important for storming enemy
land or bases to provide the shock effect with the armoured
vehicles using their fire power to inflict maximum damage to
The Command at present has a Brigade comprising three
battalions- two from the Army and one from the Territorial
Army - deployed in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The only dedicated amphibious warfare Brigade of the Army
is currently posted somewhere in the south-eastern coast of
India. Lakshwadeep Islands on the east coast is where the
Army’s Brigade currently carries out its practice session and
However, Andaman and Nicobar having a Command headquarters
based here would have a greater role to play in honing the
skills of the Indian troops, the officer added.
Incidentally, India had only last year inducted an
indigenously built Landing Pontoon Dock (LPD), a warship
larger than LSTs that can support amphibious warfare and also
act as a replenishment ship for navy battle ships operating
away from the Indian waters.
INS Airavat, as the ship is called, can also be converted
into a floating hospital to provide succour to populations hit
by natural disasters, as witnessed during the 2004 Tsunami
that also struck the Indian coast.
In 2007, India had bought another larger LPD from the US.
INS Jalashwa, which was formerly the USS Trenton, too has
a similar role to play as Airavat.
Both these ships are currently attached to the
Vishakapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command.