FILE PHOTO: Royal Australian Navy guided-missile frigate HMAS Parramatta (FFH 154) (L) sails with U.S. Navy Amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) in the South China Sea, April 18, 2020
The 25th edition of the Malabar exercise is taking place in the midst of growing convergence of interests in the maritime domain among the four Quad countries
Led by the US, a four-day high-profile joint drill of the navies of all Quad countries started off the coast of the Pacific island, Guam, yesterday.
This comes in the backdrop of the resolve by the four nations--India, the US, Australia and Japan-- to work towards a free and open Indo-Pacific in view of China's expansionist behaviour in the region, reports The Hindu.
On Tuesday, China kicked off a series of naval exercises near the southern province of Guangdong in the South China Sea, near the southern province of Guangdong in the South China Sea, and off the northeast coast near Liaoning in the Yellow Sea and Bohai Strait.
Chinese media termed the Quad exercise as being the US government’s reassurance to its allies, of its commitment to the region amid fallout from the Afghanistan withdrawal and the chaotic fall of Kabul.
The US has carried out frequent military exercises and transits through the South China Sea in a bid to push back on what it says is Chinese overreach and militarisation of the waters, while Beijing has accused the US of threats of force and provocations in the area. .
The ongoing Quad drills, called Malabar 21, will be held till August 29 amid participation of all members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad.
The navies of the four Quad nations will hold exercises involving destroyers, frigates, corvettes, submarines, helicopters, long-range maritime patrol aircraft and elite special forces elements including the US Navy SEALs and MARCOS, Indian Navy said in a statement to the press on Wednesday.
The complex drills are being hosted by the US Navy in the Western Pacific, officials said.
The 25th edition of the Malabar exercise is taking place in the midst of growing convergence of interests in the maritime domain among the four Quad countries.
In an interactive session at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral John Aquilino on Wednesday spoke about key challenges facing the Indo-Pacific and delved into China's rapid military build-up including in the maritime domain.
Admiral Aquilino also hinted at the possibility of increasing the number of participants at the Malabar naval exercise if leaders of the four participating countries concur with it.
Following India's invitation, Australia participated in the Malabar exercise last year that effectively made it a drill by all four member nations of the Quad.
China has been suspicious about the purpose of the Malabar exercise as it feels that the annual wargame is an effort to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian Navy and the US Navy in the Indian Ocean. Japan became a permanent member of the exercise in 2015. This annual exercise was conducted off the coast of Guam in 2018 and off the coast of Japan in 2019.
Last year, the exercise was hosted in two phases in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.