Australia will take part in the Malabar Naval Exercise in 2020 which will boost the interoperation capabilities of the Quad in the high seas.
- The Ministry of Defence announced that Australia will take part in the Malabar Naval Exercise 2020.
- The countries that are going to participate in the Malabar Naval Exercise in 2020 are India, Japan, the USA and now Australia.
- The Quad group formally bring four countries militaries together and this is the first military exercise between all the four countries.
- The exercise is scheduled to be held at the end of November.
- The exercise is planned on a non-contact format at sea level.
- The discussion for Australia’s inclusion has come up at the Quad meeting in Tokyo.
- The Malabar exercise was a bilateral exercise between India and the USA in 1992.
- Later it expanded into the trilateral format with Japan’s inclusion in 2015.
- The Malabar exercise includes simulated war games and combat manoeuvres.
- In 2019, it was held in September off the coast of Japan.
- It included the complex maritime operations in surface, air domains and sub-surface with the key focus on anti-submarine, anti-air and anti-surface firings, tactical scenario based exercise at the sea and maritime interdiction operations (MIO).
Malabar, BECA and Strengthening of Quad
- Wary of China’s rise in the Asia-Pacific region, a grouping of four countries – India, the USA, Japan and Australia was mooted.
- But, the progress towards formalising the Quad was slow until recently.
- With China’s aggression in the region and the standoff at Ladakh gave a fresh impetus to the Quad and the things are moving quickly towards formalisation.
- The joining of Australia to the Malabar exercise must be seen in this light.
- China had vehemently opposed the Malabar exercises between the four countries.
- It perceives the exercises to be directly aimed at it.
- But, the formalisation of Quad is gaining pace and the grouping will be a strong counter top China in the region.
- In this regard, India and the USA are stepping up to conclude the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
- The BECA will allow India to use US geospatial intelligence. It also enhances the accuracy of automated weapons and systems like missiles and armed drones.
- In September 2018, both the countries have signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA).
- This cleared the way for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India.
- This will help in interoperability between the two forces and with other militaries which are using the US origin systems for secure data links.
- In August 2016, the USA and India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
- This agreement will allow replenishing the military of each country from the other’s base.
The completion of the all the three foundational agreements with the USA will make India take advantage of technological and intelligence of the USA to counter China.