The Malabar naval exercise finally becomes a Quad event after Australia confirms full participation in the military exercise with India, US and Japan scheduled in November this year. The military exercise will now bring together the navies of India, Japan, Australia and the US in the Bay of Bengal at the end of the year. It will be the first time all members of the regional grouping known as the Quad will be engaged at a military level. Australia had last participated in Exercise MALABAR as a non-permanent partner in 2007.
Calling it a milestone opportunity for the Australian Defence force, the minister of foreign affairs and minister of women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said that the exercise builds on the comprehensive strategic partnership, to which PM Morrison and PM Narendra Modi agreed on June 4, 2020. Accepting the invitation the minister called the military exercise an important step in Australia’s deepening relationship with India. The minister said: “It will bolster the ability of India, Japan, Australia and the US to work together to uphold peace and stability across our region”.
Seeking to strengthen military cooperation with other Asia-Pacific countries amid rising tensions with China, India had extended a formal invitation to Australia to join the 2020 edition of the military exercise that has so far involved the navies of India, US, and Japan.
According to people directly familiar with the matter, the Malabar exercises will be taking place in two stages in the Bay of Bengal; the 2019 exercise took place from September 26 to October 4 off the coast of Japan. The naval exercise featuring the QUAD partners will be held on November 3-6 and November 17-20. The shared objective of all four countries is free and open navigation in Indo-Pacific.
India’s inclusion of Australia this year follows a defence agreement and upgrading ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The Mutual Logistics support agreement announced in May by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Scott Morrison allows access to each other’s bases and ports. India has a similar agreement with the U.S.