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Australia to join Malabar Exercise along with India, USA and Japan

Ships from the U.S. Navy, Indian Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sail in formation in the Bay of Bengal. (COLE SCHROEDER/U.S. NAVY)
October 22, 2020

Australia will be participating in Malabar Naval Exercise in November 2020 for the first time since 2007 by joining India, the U.S., and Japan, garnering it to being the first Malabar drill in history to be conducted in the quadrilateral level.

Announcing Australia’s participation in the November exercise, India’s Minister of Defence said in a statement: “As India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain and in the light of increased defense cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy.”

India’s declaration of Canberra’s consent in exercise has soured the credibility of exercise on profound exclusiveness in the Indo Pacific region, signaling the rise of a new democratic bloc called as “QUAD” group as a strong signal to China.

Accepting India’s invitation for the upcoming Malabar naval exercise, finally, Australia is emerging into the action as part of the new strategic group of Indo-Pacific Democratic bloc called “QUAD” in the first joint mega military drill after having bitter diplomatic tensions with China for the past several years.

Malabar started as a bilateral exercise between India and the U.S. in the early 1990s to increase the cooperation between both nation’s navies as part of enhancing strategic ties. Japan later joined the Malabar to open a new frontier in Indo Pacific cooperation for several years. Now Malabar will be the first international drill comprising of strongest democracies surrounding China geographically in the Indo Pacific region.

As China under Xi Jinping has consolidated and strengthened its military prowess in the 21st century, the bordering nations are feeling the pressure. With concerns about freedom of navigation and safeguarding sovereignties of bordering nations, India and the U.S. have started to solidify their stand with military and diplomatic cooperation to counter China on a greater scale. China’s aggressive behavior with neighboring nations and on the LAC caused an increased defensive posture by the Indian armed forces, including the fortification of the entire region.

In 2005, the QUAD was the answer to China’s increased militarization in the region as a balanced approach on a strategic scale with intelligence sharing. QUAD had its first official dialogue in 2017 and later conducted a series of agreements, including intelligence and military — both solidifying the foundation of QUAD as the spearhead against China by all leading democracies in the Indo Pacific region.

Malabar is a symbolizing attempt by India to bring all three potential powers to establish the de facto force of Democratic-assured powers to balance against China in international seas.