Australia will host Exercise Malabar for the first time and India will, also for the first time, participate in Australia’s Talisman Sabre exercise, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced.
India is a top tier security partner for Australia, he said during a visit onboard India’s indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in Mumbai.
“My visit [to India] reflects my government’s commitment to place India at the heart of Australia’s approach to the Indo-Pacific and beyond,” he said addressing the Navy personnel onboard. It is a partnership that is of increasing strategic importance as we navigate the challenges of our region together, he stated.
Noting that the Indian Ocean is central to the security and prosperity of the both countries, Mr. Albanese said there has never been a point in both the country’s histories where “we’ve had such a strong strategic alignment.”
“We both depend on free and open access to sea lanes in the Indo-Pacific for our trade and economic well being. And we share an unwavering commitment to upholding the rules-based international order and ensuring the Indo-Pacific is open, inclusive and prosperous,” he added.
Recalling the surge in military-to-military engagements between the two countries, he said “Last year, we conducted more exercises, operations and dialogues than ever before.”
In a major step forward in our relationship, India and Australia undertook Maritime Patrol Aircraft deployments to each other’s territories for the first time, he noted and added that in November alone the two countries conducted increasingly complex and sophisticated exercises in Indo-Pacific Endeavour and Exercise Austrahind.
High-end military engagements
More important than these statistics is the sheer complexity and high-end nature of our military engagements, which is unprecedented, he said. “I predict that 2023 will be busier than ever for our defence cooperation.”
Mr. Albanese referred to the inaugural Australia-India General Rawat Defence Officer Exchange Programme that is currently taking place in India. “This pioneering exchange program, created by Prime Minister Modi, will ensure our defence personnel develop the familiarity and trust that underpins a close and long-lasting relationship.”
Mr. Albanese landed in Ahmedabad on March 08 as part his four-day visit where he also celebrated Holi. Earlier in the day, he along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi watched a cricket match, the 4th and final Test Match, between India and Australia in Ahmedabad.
As part of the programme, a 15-member tri-service Australian military contingent, including four female officers arrived in India on March 01. On Thursday, the team visited the Indian Army’s Agra based Shatrujeet Brigade along with 15 selected Indian Officers who are hosting them.
Both Indian and Australian officers were taken through a series of training demonstrations related to fighting in built-up areas by paratroopers of the elite formation during the visit, an Army source said.