Strategic Power Play in the Indian Ocean
The naval exercise is part of a broader collective effort to preserve the balance of maritime power.
Malabar 2015: Strategic Power Play in the Indian Ocean
By Abhijit Singh
Earlier last week, India and the United States held the 19th edition of Exercise Malabar, a joint naval exercise, in the Bay of Bengal. This year, the interactions were an improvement over previous engagements, owing not only to the closely coordinated nature of combat drills, but also because of the presence of Japanese navy that took part in an Indian Ocean iteration of the Malabar for the first time in eight years. Importantly, the interaction has transitioned from being an India-U.S. bilateral engagement into a formal structured trilateral exercise, which maritime analysts say may be aimed at countering growing Chinese military presence in the Indian Ocean.
An abiding symbol of warming strategic relations between the U.S. and India, Exercise-Malabar is the most wide-ranging professional interaction the Indian Navy has with any of its partner maritime forces. Even so, the decision to include Japan as a permanent member came as a surprise, considering that New Delhi has for long resisted overtures from the U.S. to broaden the scope of the interaction.
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