Malabar 2020 Naval Exercise

#GS2 #InternationalRelations #DefenceCooperation


As India Seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain and in the light of increased defence cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy.



  • Naval exercises between India and the US (Malabar) has been an ongoing affair since 1992. After a brief interlude due to India’s 1998 nuclear tests and the imposition of sanctions, the exercise became an annual feature since 2002.
  • Initially pitched at a basic level of naval drills between the US and India, Malabar 2005 involved the participation of the aircraft carriers of both navies for the first time.
  • In June 2007, days before the first-ever official-level security consultation between the US, India, Japan and Australia, China issued demarches to each of the participants seeking to know the purpose behind their meeting.
  • In 2015, India took the bold move of including Japan as a permanent member of the Malabar exercises. The change proclaimed India’s readiness to stand its ground on security matters and was welcomed both by the US and Japan.
  • In January 2017, Australia requested that its naval assets be allowed to attend Malabar exercises as an ‘observer’. Though Australia was denied an observer status in Malabar-2017, participation of the country in future Malabar exercises was not foreclosed.



  • With the recent actions by China in the Himalayas as well as in the South China Sea, it was time that a holistic view of the evolving security scenario in the Indo-Pacific region is taken to arrive at a pragmatic decision of expanding the Malabar exercise to include Australia and perhaps other like-minded countries.
  • The operationalisation of the Gwadar port, deployment of troops in the Chinese base at Djibouti, among other developments, indicate the enhanced Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • Considering that Australia also shares similar security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region as India in the present context, its inclusion thereby upgrading the present trilateral format to a ‘quad of nations’ would be a pragmatic decision that we all as members of the QUAD have taken.



  • Based on the platform provided by the Malabar exercises, a perceptible beginning to a peaceful Indo-Pacific region has been made as India seized this opportunity to take the lead in forming an overarching security quad of India, Australia, Japan and the US, thereby demonstrating a cooperative approach, greater coherence and a shared resolve to address maritime security issues in the Indo-Pacific.
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