Australia will host the Malabar multilateral naval exercise, consisting of India, Australia, Japan and the U.S., for the first time this year. The high tempo of bilateral engagement between the two countries will continue with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong scheduled to visit India early March duringwhich officials said some major defence initiatives could be announced.
“Malabar 2023 is scheduled to be held in August and Australia will host this edition,”official sources confirmed. “The exercise is likely to be held in Perth. However, a final decision is yet to be taken as the modalities are still being finalised,” two officials independently stated.
Ms. Wong is scheduled to attend the G-20 Foreign Ministers meeting on March 1 and 2 and Mr. Albanese is scheduled to visit India on March 8 on a bilateral visit. The visit comes months after the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement came into force.
The Quad Foreign Ministers are scheduled to hold a meeting a day after the G-20 meeting. Australia is scheduled to host the Quad summit later this year.
Australia was included as a permanent member of Ex Malabar in 2020 amid the standoff with China in Eastern Ladakh. Japan hosted the last edition of Malabar which was held in November 2022 which also marked 30 years of the exercise which began as a bilateral exercise between India and the U.S. in 1992.
In fact, the Navy Chiefs of the four countries, also part of the Quadrilateral grouping, were present for the inaugural ceremony in Japan last year as the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force also hosted an International Fleet Review and the 18th Western Naval Symposium before the naval war games. The four Navies Chiefs also met exchanged views on “further enhancing inter-operability” in future editions of the Malabar multilateral naval exercise, according to an official release issued then.
The exercise has grown in size, scope and complexity with Anti-Submarine Warfare training emerging as a major focus area in the last few years, especially against the backdrop of rapid expansion of Chinese Navy and its increased forays into the Indian Ocean. India’s increasing acquisition of military platforms from the U.S. has increased commonality of platforms, in addition to New Delhi concluding all foundational agreement.