India and its two strategic partners — Japan and US — will conduct Malabar naval exercise 2018 in waters off Guam for the first time starting Thursday. The edition of this latest mega military exercise is important as it comes amid a growing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar said this year’s edition of the annual exercise will be very significant in terms of the “scope and complexity” it was aiming at with a view to deal with threats and challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.
Indian Naval Ships Sahyadri, Shakti and Kamorta of the eastern fleet would be participating in the 22nd edition of the Malabar exercise from June 7 to 16 June. The Navy will send its P 8I surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft to the exercise, in its first overseas deployment, Navy officials said.
“It will be perhaps one of the largest Malabar exercise in terms of participation of naval assets from all the three countries,” said Vice Admiral Kumar.
Kumar said war-like situations will be simulated as part of the exercise to enhance inter-operability of the navies of the three countries to deal with such situations effectively.
It is for the first time the Malabar exercise is being conducted off Guam, a US Territory. Malabar 2017 was held in July last year on the eastern sea board of India, off Chennai and Visakhapatnam.
The exercise is taking place at a time when the US, Japan and several other leading countries have called for greater role of India in the Indo-Pacific region. The US has recently named its Hawaii-based Pacific Command as the Indo-Pacific command, reflecting Washington’s priority in the Indo-Pacific region.
(with agency inputs)