Increasing maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean has propelled India to engage in extensive maritime diplomacy with the other countries in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue for maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
One advanced maritime exercise, Malabar 2022, was held from November 8 to 18 by the navies of India, the US, Japan and Australia in the Seas of Japan. This edition of the exercise marked its 30th anniversary and was hosted by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
The Malabar exercise happened to occur at a significant time amid China’s expansionist behavior in the Indo-Pacific region and North Korea’s missile tests.
The first Malabar exercise was in 1992 between the United States and India. Japan became a permanent participant in 2015 and Australia joined in 2020. All four Quad member countries participated in the Malabar exercise to enhance integration and employment of advanced warfare tactics.
Maritime security aims to address challenges concerning piracy, smuggling and unregulated fishing in international waters. The Quad member countries are deeply committed to the rule of law and to responding to such illicit activities.
One of the main highlights of this year’s Malabar exercise was the War at Sea exercise, which further enabled the navies of all four nations to consolidate interoperability and embrace their tactical skills.
A logistics support agreement among all the participating countries was validated during the exercise. Malabar 2022 included high-end tactical training as well as submarine integration along with anti-submarine warfare training and maritime interdiction operations.
This exercise was a great opportunity for the like-minded nations of the Quad to work together toward maintaining security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. In this Malabar exercise, 11 surface ships along with a nuclear-capable aircraft participated with integrated air elements.
This year’s Malabar exercise was conducted by the JMSDF and through this, Japan was able to improve its capabilities and deepen cooperation with the Indian, US and Australian navies.
Through this multilateral defense exercise, India got a chance to demonstrate its capabilities of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and the special operation forces in cooperation with other members of the Quad. A Shivalik-class stealth frigate, a P8I aircraft and a Kamorta-class ASW unit were included by India in the Malabar exercise.
A new Indo-Pacific partnership was announced at the Quad leaders’ summit in Tokyo in May. Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) involves sharing commercially available satellite data and also alerting Southeast Asian countries regarding territorial intrusions. It also allows alerts regarding the ships carrying out illegal fishing and piracy in waters within their maritime boundaries.
MDA will give the ability to Pacific Islands, those in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia to monitor international waters and further uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific. China’s maritime territorial disputes with such countries as Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia make it even more vital for Quad member countries to focus on maintaining security and stability in the region.
India has been on the defensive side regarding China’s behavior in recent years and can build on the MDA and further strengthen its regional outreach.
The rise of the Chinese navy in the Indo-Pacific region has propelled all four Quad countries to come together to develop joint strategies through military exercises. India aims to challenge China’s activities in the region with support from Australia, the US and Japan to maintain a rules-based order.
It is vital to maintain a continuous maritime domain awareness to foster maritime security, and the Quad nations have the resources required to maintain a robust MDA. The Quad’s fundamental focus should be to combine the MDA efforts into a shared common operational picture that would help enhance situational awareness of maritime security.
The Quad can improve its military response to maritime security by organizing training for interoperability among its nations and also participants from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It is also widely noted that the Quad’s involvement in the Indian Ocean region would be useful for developing cooperation with other friendly naval powers.
The Indian Navy must deepen its engagement with the navies of the United States, Japan, France, Australia and Britain to enhance interoperability and to acquire critical strategic technology.