The United States Navy has just wrapped another security partnership exercise in the Indian Ocean this month. Exercise Malabar is a trilateral naval exercise. This exercise is shared between India, Japan, and the United States, as permanent partners. Australia and Singapore — the additional non-permanent partners — have participated in the past; Australia, twice.
Malabar includes integrated air-sea combat maneuvers, simulations, war games, and unit-level training. The scope of testing and training scenarios varies year-to-year, but tends to unanimously include anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious warfare, carrier-based aviation, and air warfare, counter-piracy operations, cross–deck landings, diving and salvage operations, interdiction operations, fire support operations, surface warfare, subsurface warfare, synchronization of intelligence and signal… it’s a long list.
Malabar began in 1992 as an arrangement between the United States and India. In 2015, Japan joined the game as the third permanent partner. In 2007, both Australia and Singapore participated. Australia once again participated in this year’s exercise.
Malabar 24 – this year – was held in two phases. The first phase was held in the Bay of Bengal, from November 3rd to 6th. The second – which was just completed – was held in the Arabian Sea, from November 17th to 20th. Prior locations have been as far removed as the Persian Gulf and the coast of Japan. And the exercise is conducted annually.
Although Australia has only taken part twice, its inclusion marks an important step in the overall regional security initiative known as the Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. The Quad is basically an informal strategic forum between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, which involves military drills and exercises (like Malabar), information and intelligence exchanges, and semi-regular summits. Malabar is certainly the most expansive military exercise conducted within or between the Quad, and even when all member countries are not present, the Quad’s overall goals are still kept in mind during the planning and execution process.
As mentioned, Malabar began in 1992, but the United States suspended three consecutive exercises after India conducted nuclear weapons tests. The 1998, 1999, and 2000 exercises were the years canceled. Malabar was brought back online in 2001 after India joined President Bush’s Coalition against global terrorism.
Participant vessels included the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, USS John S. McCain, INS Shakti, INS Ranvijay, INS Shivalik, INS Sindhuraj, HMAS Ballarat and JS Ōnami.
Feature image courtesy of pacom.mil.