The Indian Ocean region is a major strategic location and an increasing amount of maritime activity in the region led India and Australia to conduct their first joint naval exercise here.India and Australia concluded their first joint naval exercise called AusIndex in Vishakhapatnam on September 21.
Worried over China’s navigation in the Indian Ocean region both the countries had decided to enhance their cooperation in the region. The exercise focused largely on anti-submarine warfare.
AusIndex brought together ships and aircraft from both countries to strengthen defence co-operation under the Framework for Security Cooperation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot in 2014. The exercise will be held once in two years between the two countries.
“The relationship between the two militaries was strategically significant,” Head, Navy Capability of Australia, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead said. “India remains one of Australia’s key security partners in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific. We have mutual interests in promoting peace and prosperity in the region,” added Mr Mead.
A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C and three Royal Australian Navy vessels made it to India for the inaugural biennial exercise. Indian Navy ships Shivalik, Ranvijay and Shakti, along with P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft trained alongside Australian ships Sirius, Arunta and Sheean. The two sides had briefings and practical demonstrations on the shore before moving onto the sea for surface and anti-submarine warfare and coordinated anti-submarine exercises.
The growing domination of China in the Indian Ocean region and Asia-Pacific has led to countries like India, US, Australia and Japan to explore opportunities to collaborate and enhance their cooperation in the region. While many in China see this grouping as an anti-China alliance, official statements by these countries deny any such intention. The Chinese media and members of the strategic community view the growing bonhomie between India and US as a tactic by US to use India as leverage against China. China is Australia’s largest trading partner but China’s domination in the region has led Australia to form alliances with other countries in the region.
Newly elected Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, “China’s actions, including the construction of military bases on reclaimed atolls could draw neighbours closer to the United States.”
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