The Narendra Modi administration has invited Australia for the annual Malabar naval exercises next month with the confirmation of the United States and Japan by taking part in the exercise. The move of Australia taking part is expected to further lay the foundation for the eventual formalization of the QUAD grouping.
The Malabar practices will take place in two stages on India's eastern and western seaboard; the exercise of 2019 took place from September 26 to October 4 off the coast of Japan. The naval exercise featuring the QUAD partners will be held on November 3-6 and November 17-20. The collective objective of all the four countries is to open navigation in the Indo-Pacific.
“As India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain and in the light of increased defense cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy,” the defense ministry announced in a declaration.
The Malabar exercise of 2020 will take place in two parts; one would be in the Bay of Bengal, north of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the other, in the Arabian Sea. The exercise would occur after the QUAD Foreign Ministers meeting in Tokyo on October 6 and will follow shortly after the India-US two plus two dialogue on October 26-27 during which the Geospatial agreement called BECA is foreseen to be ratified by the two countries.
Meanwhile, the four QUAD members have gestured their intent to move away from the troupe of blocs to describe their shared values. Their objective is to secure sea lanes for open trade and not to be constrained by an expansionist Chinese Navy. "QUAD is a security architecture between democratic counties, which have military logistics as well as communication agreement. It is not an emotion or a Cold War-type alliance," said a senior diplomat.
According to a retired commander of the Indian Navy's Western Naval Command, the Malabar exercises are aimed at interoperability with an emphasis on humanitarian assistance, surface war maneuvers, anti-submarine warfare, counter-terror operations, gunnery training, and aerial surveillance.