On Thursday, the four countries that comprise the Quadrilateral grouping (The Quad) – the United States, India, Japan, and Australia — launched the annual naval exercise Malabar in the Philippine Sea. The exercise’s maritime portion will go until August 29.
This is the 25th iteration of Exercise Malabar, which began in 1992 as a bilateral exercise involving US and Indian naval troops. With the addition of the Japanese navy in 2015, it became a trilateral exercise. Australia joined Malabar last year, making it a quadrilateral exercise. Malabar is seen as an anti-China coalition by a “Concert of Democracies” by Beijing. However, official comments from participating countries emphasize a desire to protect global commons and freedom of passage rather than joining forces against a common foe.
The US Navy stated on Thursday that “Malabar is an annual maritime exercise that enhances planning, training, and application of advanced warfare tactics between the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Indian Navy (IN), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and the US Navy, demonstrating the commitment of like-minded nations to upholding a rules-based maritime order in the Indo-Pacific.”
“Exercise Malabar-21 would include sophisticated exercises such as anti-surface, anti-air, and anti-submarine warfare drills, as well as other maneuvers and tactical exercises. The exercise would allow participating navies to learn from each other’s knowledge and experiences,” said a statement from New Delhi.
In addition, Naval Special Warfare troops will conduct operations to combat irregular maritime threats and improve interoperability with traditional naval forces throughout Phase 1. The Indian Navy is sending two warships: the multi-role stealth frigate INS Shivalik and the anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kadmatt of the Kamorta class. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has three capital warships: the Izumo-class multi-role destroyer JS Kaga and two Murasame-class destroyers, JS Murasame and JS Shiranui. HMAS Warramunga, an Anzac-class frigate, is being sent by Australia. The US Navy is deploying the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry, one of its most capable submarine hunters.
The Military Sealift Command’s underway replenishment oilers, USNS Rappahannock, and USNS Big Horn perform underway logistics (replenishment at sea).
The lack of aircraft carriers and helicopter carriers, as well as the participation of three maritime reconnaissance aircraft, suggests that the emphasis during Malabar 2021 will be on anti-submarine operations rather than air activities. Collaborative anti-submarine operations will be critical for the four participating fleets, which will be tasked in any regional confrontation with containing Chinese submarines in their bases during warfare.
The four fleets will also get the opportunity to practice communication and interoperability drills. The signing of the “Communications Compatibility and Security Deal” (COMCASA) agreement between India and the United States in September 2018 has already paved the way for the tactical communications required for such operations.
The four navies’ elements frequently work together in the Indo-Pacific, establishing a cooperative approach to regional security.
(Source – Business Standard)