The Malabar Exercises: An Appraisal

The 21st edition of the Malabar exercises, Malabar-17, was conducted in the Bay of Bengal from July 10 to 17, 2017. The primary aim of the exercise was to increase interoperability amongst the navies of India, Japan and the US as well as develop a common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations. The exercise is a demonstration of the joint commitment of all three nations to address common maritime challenges across the spectrum of operations and will go a long way in enhancing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region for the benefit of the global maritime community.
The Indo-Pacific region holds immense geo-political and geo-strategic significance for navies around the world. The challenges of piracy, maritime terrorism, organised crime like drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, trafficking of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related material, all have forced navies to conduct joint patrols and provide escort duties for shipping assets. In conjunction with these non-conventional challenges, the challenge to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, unrelenting firing of missiles by North Korea and apprehension of non-accessibility of crucial choke points have elicited varying responses from the stake holders. It has become imperative for navies to cooperate with each other, ensure interoperability and position maritime assets to ensure peace and stability. Over a period of time, naval exercises between like-minded nations have become a viable mechanism to practice drills in a simulated setting in order to eliminate functional gaps that may lead to insecurities.

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