The stunning settings at the Marina Park was the venue for a glorious International City Parade on March 9. The City Parade showcased the motto of MILAN 'Friendship Across the Seas' in great style as school children, Marine Commandos, Para Jumpers, marching contingents and cultural troops stole the hearts of the spectators. The events unfolded with the backdrop of the historic Ross Island against the pristine blue waters of the Andaman Sea. Marine Commandos of the Indian Navy demonstrated a small team insertion and extraction technique as they launched an attack on a dummy oil rig. This was followed by a Search and Rescue demonstration by Chetak helicopters of the Indian Navy & the Coast Guard, instilling confidence amongst the spectators about the HADR capabilities of the Armed Forces. The daring display by motorcyclists from the Indian Army left the audience enthralled. The Marine Commandos of the Indian Navy jumped from a Dornier aircraft for a combat free fall to exhibit sky diving skills. Admiral DK Joshi, (Retd) Lieutenant Governor, Andaman & Nicobar reviewed the parade as smartly turned out contingents of all four components, marched to the tunes of military bands. Ceremonial bands of the Army, Navy, Andaman & Nicobar Police enthralled the audience with martial music. The colourful tableaus from Andaman & Nicobar Command, Forest Department and Directorate of Shipping Services as also the cultural folk dances added colour to the event. The 15 Assam Regiment closed out the cultural extravaganza with an ebullient Manipuri dance. The Continuity Drill of the Indian Navy and the precise manoeuvres of Air warrior Drill Team, drew applause from the huge gathering with their split second precision. As the setting sun streaked the twilight sky, the Indian Naval Band performed, the last tune before the 'Retreat', while the National Flag was being lowered. The fireworks and the synchronized illumination of the Naval ships at anchorage were a sight to cherish.
The arrival of 11 foreign warships in Port Blair marked the beginning of the 10th edition of MILAN, a biennial congregation of friendly navies. These ships from countries in Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Regions were berthed at the Naval and Haddo jetties. In addition to the warships from the Andaman & Nicobar Command, Indian Naval Ships from the Eastern Naval Command also participated in the multilateral exercise. On their arrival at Haddo jetty, all foreign warships were received by the joint Army, Navy and Police Bands, playing fanfare and martial tunes. School children waving flag also formed part of the welcome ceremony. The MILAN also saw the participation of 38 delegates from various countries, making it the largest gathering since its inception in 1995. The growing participation over the years bears the testimony to the success of this multilateral initiative.
A Seminar based on the theme 'In Pursuit of Maritime Good Order-Need for Comprehensive Information Sharing Apparatus' was also held in which various eminent speakers deliberated upon issues to evolve best practices for multi-lateral cooperation towards strengthening of maritime good order in the Indian Ocean Region. The seminar was attended by delegates from participating Navies of MILAN 2018 and senior Officers from Naval Headquarters, New Delhi.
- Capt DK Sharma and Col A Dikshit