Washington, DC – The second phase of the maritime joint military Exercise Malabar 2021 is being conducted in the Bay of Bengal from October 12 -15 by members of the ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’ (Quad). The first phase was conducted in the Philippines Sea in August of this year.
This multilateral training being conducted by the Royal Australian, Indian, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and US navies is focused on naval cooperation and interoperability, said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby. “The Department of Defense continually seeks opportunities to integrate with our allies and partners to improve effectiveness and create an information-sharing environment. We look forward to further strengthening the bonds between our nations.”
The US Navy is represented by the Aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson along with two destroyers, USS Lake Champlain and USS Stockdale. The Indian Navy’s participation includes INS Ranvijay, INS Satpura and a Submarine. The Japan Maritime Self Defence Force is represented by JS Kaga and JS Murasame. The Royal Australian Navy’s participation includes HMAS Ballarat and HMAS Sirius.
The Malabar series of exercises started as a bilateral American-Indian exercise in 1992 but has greatly expanded in scope and complexity. Malabar is designed to enhance dynamic cooperation between the US, Indian, JMSDF and Royal Australian Navies in the Indo-Pacific. Given China’s aggressive posture in the region, and the frequent appearance of Chinese naval submarines in the Indian ocean, these maritime exercises have included coordinated anti-submarine operation drills.
The security of trading routes and supply chains in the region have been a cause for concern for Europe as well. Following the release of its Indo-Pacific policy guidelines last year, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had said it hoped to deploy to the Indo-Pacific region to help safeguard the rules-based international order. Last month Germany deployed the warship Bayern on a six month deployment to the Indo-Pacific. Kramp-Karrenbauer said, “The message is clear: we are standing up for our values and interests together with our partners and allies.” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany’s presence in the Indo-Pacific region was important, “We aim to be involved and to take responsibility for maintaining the rule-based international order.”
Last month the European Union (EU) released its Indo-Pacific strategy which aims to “promote an open and rules-based regional security architecture, including secure sea lines of communication, capacity-building and enhanced naval presence by EU Member States in the Indo-Pacific.” The guidelines state that the EU will also support Indo-Pacific partners’ capacity to ensure maritime security, and conduct multilateral exercises “to fight piracy and protect freedom of navigation in the region.”
Poonam Sharma, Managing Editor, India America Today