Navy to host its largest exercise, Ex Milan, next February

Invites have been sent to 46 countries. All Quad countries are participating in it, says official

October 04, 2021 09:26 pm | Updated 09:28 pm IST - NEW DELHI

India is set to host its largest naval exercise, Ex Milan, early next year for which 46 countries have been invited, a senior defence official said.

“Ex Milan is being planned for February 2022 and invites have been sent to 46 countries. Several of them have already confirmed their participation,” the official said. The exercise will see the participation of all Quad countries with the U.S. being invited for the first time.

Being shifted to Visakhapatnam

Milan, which began in 1995, is held biennially and brings together Navies of all the countries in the region. It has so far been held at Port Blair but is now being shifted to Visakhapatnam which offers more space and infrastructure, the official said.

The invitees include all Indian Ocean littoral states and countries from South East Asia among others. For the 2020 edition, 40 countries were invited but the exercise was cancelled due to the pandemic. The 10th edition in 2018 saw the participation of 20 ships.

There has been huge increase in the Navy’s engagements in the Indo-Pacific with several countries keen on exercising with India. There are several demands for trilaterals in the region which the Navy is prioritising considering its operational requirements and relationships with the countries, officials said.

In 2019, India, Thailand and Singapore began an annual trilateral and India is keen on the inclusion of Indonesia in it. Discussions are ongoing on the issue, the source said.

Over the last few years, India has signed a series of logistics support and white shipping agreements with a series of countries as part of efforts to improve the operational turnaround and improve logistics of the armed forces in the region and also improve Maritime Domain Awareness. These agreements have been very helpful in significantly improving operational turnaround, officials acknowledge.

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