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The annual Malabar Exercise of Quad nations, and its significance
NAVIES OF the four-member nations of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad- India, the US, Japan, and Australia are participating in the 25th edition of the Malabar Exercise, which began off the coast of Guam in the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, and will continue until Sunday. Malabar, which began as a bilateral exercise, is now a cornerstone of the military interoperability of the Quad forces. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday that the Quad’s charter is to ensure freedom of navigation for all nations
Malabar is a multilateral war-gaming naval exercise that began as a bilateral exercise between the navies of India and the US in 1992. Two more editions were held in 1995 and 1996, after which there was a break until 2002 in the aftermath of India’s nuclear tests. From 2002 onward, the exercise has been conducted every year Japan and Australia first participated in 2007. There were two exercises that year, the first in the western Pacific off Japan’s Okinawa Island the first time held away from Indian shores-and another off Visakhapatnam, which saw India, Japan, the US, Australia and Singapore participate. The next year, however, the government in Australia changed, and the country ceased participation-returning only last year. Japan participated again in 2009 and 2011; since 2014, it has participated every year along with the Indian and American navies.
The exercise was conducted in two phases last year off the coast of Vishakhapatnam from November 3-6, and in the Arabian Sea from November 17-20. For the first time in over a decade, it saw the participation of all four Quad members.”Dual carrier operations were carried out around the Vikramaditya Carrier Battle Group of the Indian Navy and the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group of the US Navy. The two aircraft carriers, along with other ships, submarines, and aircraft of the participating navies, engaged in high-intensity naval operations, including cross-deck flying operations and advanced air defence exercises by MiG 29K fighter aircraft from the INS Vikramaditya, and F-18 jets and E2C Hawkeye airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft from the USS Nimitz. The exercises demonstrated synergy, coordination, and interoperability.
Exercise this year
The Navy has said Malabar will witness “complex exercises including anti-surface, anti-air, and anti-submarine warfare drills, and other manoeuvres and tactical exercises this year. The Defence Ministry had said earlier that the “exercise will strengthen the coordination between the navies of the participating countries. The Navy said on Thursday that the INS Shivalik multirole frigate, INS Kadmatt antisubmarine warfare corvette, and P8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft would be part of the exercise. The US Navy is being represented by the USS Barry, USNS Rappahannock, USNS Big Horn, and P8A patrol aircraft. The Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force is being represented by the JS Kaga, JS Murasame, and JS Shiranul destroyers, and a submarine and P1 patrol aircraft, The Royal Australian Navy has sent the HMAS Warramunga.
The exercise last year was planned on a “non-contact-at sea” format in keeping with Covid-19 protocols. The Navy has said that this year too, the “conduct of the exercise while observing health protocols during the Covid-19 global pandemic is a testimony to the synergy between the participating navies and our shared vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
Message from Malabar
The glue that binds the Quad is China, whose aggressive expansionism in the Indo- Shivalik multirole frigate, INS Kadmatt anti- Pacific is viewed with great concern by the submarine warfare corvette, and P8 long-democratic world. A grouping of four powerful navies in the region has irked China, whose relations with all four participating nations are tense. Rear Admiral Sudarshan Shrikhande (retd), who headed Naval intelligence and was Defence Advisor at the Indian High Commission in Canberra between 2005 and 2008, had told The Indian Express earlier that the Quad “must, among other things, contribute to being a key instrument of deterrence that is necessary keeping China in mind” Self-deterrence, Shrikhande had said, “never served useful purposes earlier and in fact would be dangerous now and while “the Quad need not be NATO in its formality, in its political congruence and as a post-war response”, it can “deter nonetheless,
CONTENT BY PRASHANT SINGH
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