Malabar 2016: US, Indian and Japanese joint naval exercise that begins today

The United States and India should consider permanently expanding their annual naval exercise to include other like-minded partners as part of their joint cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, a U.S. defense official said earlier this week.

Exercise MALABAR, which initially began as a bilateral naval exercise between the United States and India back in 1992, has at times been expanded to include other partners as well. The 2007 iteration included Japan, Australia, and Singapore, while Tokyo also participated in 2009 and 2014. This year, Japan has been included but Australia has reportedly been left out (See: “Japan to Join US, India in Military Exercises This Year”).

But Robert Scher, the assistant secretary of defense for the Office of Strategy, Plans and Capabilities, told an audience at a Washington, D.C.-based think tank on July 13 that the United States and India should consider permanently expanding the exercise to include these partners instead of doing so on an ad hoc basis. Scher said that expanding the exercise would be one tangible demonstration of Washington and New Delhi working together on maritime security in the Indian Ocean.

About Malabar Exercise 2016
• Malabar 2016 will be conducted with the harbour phase at Sasebo and with the sea phase in the Pacific Ocean.
• The scope of MALABAR-16 includes professional interactions in harbour and a diverse range of activities at sea, including complex surface, sub-surface and air operations.
• This year, four Indian ships are participating in the exercise including INS Satpura, INS Sahyadri, INS Shakti and INS Kirch.
• The ships have embarked one Sea King 42B ASW helicopter and two Chetak utility helicopters.
• The US Navy will be represented by ships from CTF 70 of the USN 7th fleet, which is based at Yokosuka, Japan.
• The CTF will include the aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis (CVN 74), Ticonderoga class Cruiser USS Mobile Bay and Arleigh Burke class destroyers USS Stockdale and USS Chung Hoon.
• In addition, one nuclear powered submarine, carrier wing aircraft and Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft will also participate in the exercise.
• Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) will be represented by JS Hyuga, a helicopter carrier with SH 60 K integral helicopters and Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft.
• Additionally, the Special Forces (SF) of the three navies will also interact during the exercise.