India, Australia are guardians of the flanks of the Indian Ocean: Australian Navy Officer

Indian Ocean regional challenges include climate change, “big power muscle movement”, says visiting Australian Rear Admiral

Published - November 02, 2022 03:44 am IST - NEW DELHI

Jonathan Earley. File Photo:

Jonathan Earley. File Photo:

Terming India and Australia as the guardians of the flanks of the Indian Ocean, visiting Australian Navy Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Jonathan Earley said the region’s challenges include climate change and ongoing “big power muscle movement”.  He stressed the importance of the two countries’ training together to build trust and confidence while stressing on Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) for the region.

Rear Admiral Earley is leading two naval ships with 1,300 personnel onboard, which are currently docked in Visakhapatnam as part of the 4th edition of the Indo-Pacific Endeavour (IPE), Australia’s flagship regional engagement.

Speaking to a select group of journalists on Tuesday, he commented on regional challenges without naming any specific country. “Some of the actions we are observing are indicative of a country that is growing... My only caveat is that it has got to be done in a measured way without impacting anybody else,” he said.

“There are lot of stresses and strains going on in the Indo-Pacific area each of which is contributing to that stress which is then causing a reaction from nations which want to protect their interests,” he added, noting that it could lead to political dialogue or even military action.

In response to a question on the situation in the Indian Ocean and China’s aggressive posturing, he said the challenges in the region included climate change and the “big power muscle movement that is going on.”

On the India visit, the Fleet Commander said they are doing key leadership engagement and military engagement activities including command post exercises, including amphibious operations with the Indian Army and Navy in support.

“This is to be ready in the event of a disaster relief type of operation,” said Rear Admiral Earley, elaborating on the training. “It is important to do this sort of stuff as it builds trust and confidence, because when an event happens, we don’t get much warning or notice. So when we get asked to quickly deploy, go out there and do good, we can’t do it by ourselves, typically there are other nations down there. If we do all this planning, build this trust and confidence, we know what each other brings to the particular problem, we can work seamlessly and deliver the aid where it’s needed most,” he added.

On MDA and the exchange of information on the movement of military vessels in the region, which is a growing area of cooperation among the Quad countries, he said good progress has been made. “There is opportunity for that to grow in more classified domains. That is ongoing… The enthusiasm and the motivation to share more is certainly there,” said Rear Admiral Earley, adding that expanding surveillance in terms of the P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and India’s recent acquisition of MH-60R helicopters builds commonality. The Quad countries have several common military platforms with India acquiring more and more military hardware from the U.S.

In this regard, he noted that Australia had sent a submarine to India in 2019 for an Anti-Submarine Warfare exercise. “It will be great to see an Indian submarine come to Australia,” said the Fleet Commander, adding that the recent reciprocal exchange of P-8 aircraft exercises between the two countries had gone “exceptionally well.”

The Malabar Naval exercise involving India, Australia, Japan and the U.S. is scheduled from November 8. Australia was included as a permanent member in 2020. “We are very keen to contribute meaningfully,” he said.

As part of IPE, five ships, 11 helicopters and nearly 1,800 personnel will visit 14 countries across Southeast Asia and the Northeast Indian Ocean, including India, between September 26 and November 26.

During his June visit to India, Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles had said that Australia sees India as “completely central” to its “worldview”. Stating that China was seeking to shape the world around it in a way that “we have not seen before”, he said Australia and India had a shared objective to try and protect the global rules-based order.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.