Foreign Policy Watch: India-Australia

Explained: Malabar Exercise


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Malabar Naval Exercise, Quad, 2+2

Mains level : Global alliance against China

Phase 1 of the Malabar Naval Exercise has kicked begun with the participation of Australian navy for the first time since 2007.

Go through the list for once. UPSC may ask a match the pair type question asking exercise name and countries involved.

What is Malabar Exercise?

  • It is a multilateral naval exercise that includes simulated war games and combat manoeuvres.
  • It started in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between the Indian and US navies. Japan joined in 2015.
  • This year the exercise will be held in two phases, the first from Tuesday off the coast near Visakhapatnam, and the second in the Arabian Sea in mid-November. Last year it was held in early September off the coast of Japan.

Major highlight: Quad Participation

  • For the first time in over a decade, the exercise will see the participation of all four Quad countries.
  • This will be the second time Australia will participate. In 2007, there were two Malabar Exercises.
  • The first was held off Okinawa island of Japan in the Western Pacific — the first time the exercise was held away from Indian shores — and the second in September 2007.
  • The following year, Australia stopped participating. Japan became a regular participant only in 2015, making it a trilateral annual exercise since then.

Why is Australia’s participation important?

  • The 2+2 dialogue ended with an agreement to uphold the rules-based international order, respect for the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the international seas and upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states.
  • As the standoff in eastern Ladakh continues, the participation of four large navies from the Indo-Pacific region will send a message to China.
  • It was the possibility of riling up China that had prevented India from expanding the Malabar Exercise, and from Australia joining it.

Quad is an exception

  • Over the last few months, the Indian Navy has conducted a number of Passage Exercises (PASSEX) with navies from Japan, Australia and the US.
  • But those were basic exercises to increase operability between the navies, while Malabar involves simulated war games.

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