The United States and its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific are conducting a multinational military exercise to help ensure the region remains safe for maritime navigation.
Naval forces of the United States, India, Australia and Japan conducted the 24th Exercise Malabar in the Bay of Bengal beginning on November 3. A second phase of the exercise is taking place in the Arabian Sea in mid-November, Voice of America reports.
“It is fitting to see our Navies operate in a high end, tactically relevant exercise like Malabar,” U.S. Navy Captain Steven DeMoss said in a statement from U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. “It is another opportunity to further strengthen our combined capabilities and enhance our partnerships.”
The United States works closely with India, Japan and Australia in support of a free and open rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. Foreign ministers of these nations that form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”) pledged strong support for basic freedoms and national sovereignty during an October 6 ministerial meeting.
The countries’ commitment to rules-based order comes as the People’s Republic of China engages in provocative behavior in the East and South China Seas, and multiple countries have protested Beijing’s unlawful maritime claims at the United Nations.
The United States invested more than $1.1 billion in security cooperation assistance to Indo-Pacific partners between 2017 and 2019. Former U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper called the United States’ partnership with India “one of the all-important defense relationships of the 21st century.”
The Indian Navy hosted Exercise Malabar, and the Royal Australian Navy rejoined the exercise this year for the first time since 2007. India and U.S. maritime forces have held the training annually since 1992, and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force began participating in 2017.
The training was held near Japan in 2019 and off the coast of Guam in 2018.
Exercise Malabar consists of high-end tactical training to improve cooperation between the four powers that routinely operate together in the Indo-Pacific, U.S. officials say.
“A collaborative approach toward regional security and stability is important now more than ever, to deter all who challenge a free and open Indo-Pacific.” Commander Ryan T. Easterday, commanding officer of the USS John S. McCain, said.