Ships and sailors from the navies of Australia, India, Japan and the US kicked off the second phase of the multinational exercise Malabar 2020 in the Northern Arabian Sea, on November 17.
Phase II includes a variety of high-end tactical training including night operations, replenishment at sea (RAS) approaches, and gunnery exercises (GUNEX).
This year’s exercise Malabar is special in that it marked the return of Australia to the maneuver. India, Australia, the US and Japan have been increasing their cooperation on Indo-Pacific matters as part of the re-launched “Quad” security dialogue since 2017. Australia’s participation in the long-standing naval exercise is being interpreted as giving the Quad a sharper military tone.
This year also marks the 24th iteration of the exercise, which began in 1992. The annual exercise advances the planning, integration, and employment of advanced warfare tactics between participating nations.
“Malabar is an important opportunity to demonstrate the strength of our strategic partnerships in a high-end exercise,” said Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander, Carrier Strike Group 11. “The Nimitz Strike Group team is grateful to join our Australian, Indian, and Japanese partners and increase our readiness and interoperability.”
“We look forward to phase two of the exercise as it will provide an opportunity for Ballarat to operate with modern, leading edge maritime capabilities,” said Australian Cmdr. Anthony Pisani, commanding officer, HMAS Ballarat. “Our changing maritime and security environment underscores the need to work with our close partners to advance our collective interests in a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” said Pisani.
“JS Murasame participated in the exercise on November 17, and we will further strengthen our partnership with those navies and contribute to maintaining regional peace and stability,” said Japanese Capt. Hirai Katsuhide, commander, Escort Division One. “I am sure that the multilateral exercise with Australia, India and the United States shows our strong will to maintaining and strengthening a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
Malabar 2020 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises that has grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Pacific where the US Navy has patrolled for more than 70 years promoting regional peace and security.