The Royal Australian Navy joined Indian, the US, and Japanese navies for military exercises in the Indian Ocean. The four countries have raised a concern about Chinese assertiveness in Asia.
Australia returns to the Malabar exercise after 13 years. India hosted the war game in the Indian Ocean.
US defense chiefs have pushed for more security cooperation within its allies as a counter to China, which has driven an extensive modernisation of its Navy.
The Australian frigate HMAS Ballarat exercised in the initial phase of the Malabar exercise in the Indian Ocean.
It combined vessels from the 3 other navies in air defense and anti-submarine exercise, communications, aviation, and at-sea resupply within ships.
Australian defence minister Linda Reynolds said that cooperation among Australia and its allies was important than ever
She has tweeted, “HMAS Ballarat has joined the US, Indian, and Japanese navies for Malabar exercise. I welcome this opportunity to work closely with our regional partners to enhance interoperability.”
HMAS Ballarat has joined the @indiannavy, @USNavy, & @jmsdf_pao_eng for #ExerciseMalabar. I welcome this opportunity to work closely with our regional partners to enhance interoperability. 🇦🇺🇮🇳🇺🇸🇯🇵 @Australian_Navy @DeptDefence pic.twitter.com/7ZgGvApkA0
— Linda Reynolds (@lindareynoldswa) November 4, 2020
The second phase of Malabar exercise will probably be held in the middle of November month in the Arabian Sea.
The Malabar exercise series originated back in 1992 as a bilateral US-Indian Navy exercise, and then later joined by Japan in 2015. The annual drill in 2018 was conducted in the Philippine Seas, and in 2019, it was off the coast of Japan.
Top US officials welcomed Australia’s participation.
“Participation in advanced exercises like Malabar not only highlights the strategic liability among the members but also increases our common ability to contribute to territorial security.”
While Australia wanted to return to the Malabar exercises, analysts said India had been doubtful to extend an invite over China’s conquering.
In India (New Delhi), US defence Secretary Mark Esper said, “India’s recent decision to combine Australia in the future Malabar naval exercise along with Japanese, Indian, and American forces indicate an acknowledgement of the value of working multilaterally united to address global challenges,”
Earlier in 2020, the Morrison Government declared a $270 billion defence spending strategy to develop Australia’s security.