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India, U.S. plan to expand Malabar naval exercises

India and the U.S. are looking to expand the scope of their annual Malabar naval exercises, said Vice Admiral (VADM) Joseph P. Aucoin, Commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.

However, the bilateral logistics pact, meant to simplify the exchange of utilities like fuel and food at each other’s facilities, especially during port calls, joint exercises, humanitarian assistance and anti-piracy operations, is some time away from being operationalised as India has to sort out its bureaucratic procedures.

Trilateral format

The 21st edition of the Malabar exercises, now in a trilateral format including Japan, will take place in the Indian Ocean next year and the details are being worked out. Malabar has over the years grown in size and complexity involving aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.

“We want to make it more complex … Different mission areas, especially now that India flies the P-8I’s [maritime patrol aircraft] we fly the P-8A’s, I would like to have the two aircraft working together and hunt submarines, anti-submarine warfare is one area… ,” VADM Aucoin said.

India and the U.S. had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understating (LEMOA) in August this year after several years of negotiations.

Major pact

On the delay, VADM Aucoin observed that a major agreement like that would take some time to be implemented and expressed hope that it would be done “over the next few years.”

“What we are waiting on is to receive from India a list of logistic points of contacts and then through diplomatic contacts indicate to each other that we are ready for the agreement to be entered into force,” VADM Aucoin and his staff explained on the delay.

He observed that India has “its own bureaucratic processes to work through” which is taking time. The U.S. has already fulfilled the requirements from its end.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 5:35:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/India-U.S.-plan-to-expand-Malabar-naval-exercises/article16867665.ece

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