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India-Japan-US Joint Naval Exercise (Malabar-2015)
Oct 21, 2015

India, the United States and Japan conducted a six day (14-19 October) naval exercises, reflecting closer military ties that are seen as a counterweight to growing Chinese influence in the region. Naval warships, aircraft carriers and submarines from the U.S., India and Japan steamed into the Bay of Bengal to take part in joint military exercises (Malabar 2015) off India’s east coast, signaling the growing strategic ties among the three countries.

Key Features

  • The drills were part of the process of enhancing naval cooperation among important navies of Indo-Pacific regions.

  • It was the second consecutive year Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) had taken part in the Malabar Exercise, conducted annually by the US and India off the Andamans archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. 

  • Japan had taken part in the exercises in 2007 and 2008 but only resumed its participation last year. 

  • Founded in 1992, Malabar traditionally involves just the U.S. and India. Japan took part as a guest in the past, and became a permanent member this year despite protests from China.

  • Japan sent about 200 navy personnel and a Fuyuzuki destroyer to take part in the exercises, which also included frigates, a guided missile destroyer, a submarine and aircraft from India. 

  • The US force included the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, a missile cruiser and a nuclear-powered submarine.

  • Regional power China is expanding its deep-water naval presence and staking a claim to disputed areas of the South China Sea and the East China Sea. 

  • India also has a long-standing territorial dispute with China, and troops from the two countries engaged in a major stand-off at the border last year.

  • The US has increasingly turned its focus to Asia as it looks to counter China's growing influence and a military build-up that has unnerved some of its regional neighbours.

The Indian, Japanese and U.S. navies have a common understanding and knowledge of a shared working environment at sea. This exercise would further help advance the level of understanding among the navies.

Reacting on Malabar 2015 China said, "Countries around the world have all kinds of activities and cooperation. We don't think all these activities are targeting China." China has long been wary of joint maritime exercises between India and the United States, but is especially concerned now, with Beijing involved in a host of disputes with Japan, South Korea and several of its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea. 

Exercise Malabar is a complex, high-end operational exercise that has grown in scope and complexity over the years. This was the latest in a continuing series of exercises conducted to enhance multinational maritime relationships and mutual security issues.


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