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World
11 Jul 2017

Exercise Malabar kicks off in the Bay of Bengal

The naval forces of US and India and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces recently commenced the annual Malabar joint exercises in the Bay of Bengal.

US Navy sources revealed that the exercise aimed at "tackling shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific".

Malabar 2017 would go on for 10 days and is reportedly bigger than previous editions.

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In context

All about Exercise Malabar 2017!

What is Exercise Malabar?

The Malabar Exercise, starting off as a bilateral engagement between India and the US has been held annually since 1992. It acquired trilateral status in 2015 with the entry of Japan. The exercise aimed at enhancing interoperability covers aspects including maritime interdiction and aerial combat.

Why is this important?

Importance

Why is this important?

This is the first major military drill under Donald Trump's Presidency.

The exercise is happening amid the three countries' intensifying tensions with China in the South China sea and the Indian Ocean and concerns on its expanding military presence.

The exercise is further being conducted against the backdrop of increasing incidence of threats like piracy and natural disasters which require better co-ordination to tackle.

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Details

Malabar 2017: What would the drills focus on?

US Navy statement indicates that the drills would include training at sea and at shore.

At shore training to be conducted in Chennai would cover aspects including patrol and reconnaissance and visit, board, search and seizure operations.

The sea-side of training would focus on tactical operations in multinational environments and would include anti-submarine and surface warfare, medical evacuation and air defence drills.

Naval vessels

Who all are participating in the exercise?

The participating countries are bringing in around 20 of their major naval assets for the exercise.

USS Nimitz, the US's largest aircraft carrier and India's only working aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and Japanese helicopter carrier Izumo are part of the exercise.

US guided missile destroyers including USS Howard, USS Kidd and USS Shoup, and Japan's JS Sazanami will also participate.

Indian Navy presents..

In addition to INS Vikramaditya, Indian Navy's vessels participating in the Malabar exercise include: Russian-built Ranvir class destroyers, Shivalik class stealth frigates, Kamorta class anti-submarine warfare corvette.

China factor

What does China think?

An increased Chinese naval presence was noted in the Indian Ocean in the past few days. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang notes, "We have no objection ...... cooperation among relevant countries, but we hope that this .... cooperation will not be directed at any third party."

China Daily, Chinese state-run media opined that China should feel 'security concerns' about the exercise.

Conclusion

An alternative viewpoint: Is it really about China?

Malabar has been termed America's largest military exercise conducted with non-NATO countries

The US's intention behind Malabar could be to bring India and Japan on board to relieve overstretching its naval resources.

The exercise could be construed as part of instituting an anti-China war fighting alliance. Speculations aside, forces including the IN are enabled to enhance their capabilities by working together.

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