The three-nation Malabar Naval Exercise involving India, Japan and the United States maritime forces which began today, is setting a great example to the world, a top US official said here today. “I would like to say this is a strategic message to China. It (the message) would also be the same to Canada or to Republic of Korea or to Australia or to any other maritime force,” US Navy Commander, Rear Admiral William D Byrne Jr told reporters after the inauguration of the five-day Malabar Naval Exercise, here.
The US, Japanese and Indian maritime forces began the Malabar Naval Exercise-2017 aimed at “achieving deeper military ties between the three nations.” “Operating together and practising together is a good thing. It is because — we are better together and we learn from each other. We know who we are and what is our capability. That is the strategic message to the entire world. I think, we are setting a great example here in Malabar (exercise) 2017”, he said.
The Malabar exercise is taking place amid the ongoing military standoff between armies of India and China in the Sikkim section and Beijing ramping up its naval presence in South China sea. Responding to a query about it, Indian Flag Officer, Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, HCS Bisht said, “it has nothing to do with Malabar Exercise.” “The Process of Malabar exercise starts a year before (its scheduled beginning) and the initial planning takes place six months in advance. The stand-off you are talking about has got nothing to do with the Malabar exercise. Through this exercise we learn from each other,” he said.
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Bisht reiterated that the joint Naval exercise would focus on the “mutual learning,” “sharing of best practices” and enhancing the “inter-operability” among the three countries. To a query on the conduct of Malabar exercise vis-a-vis the situation prevailing around North Korea, the US Commander Byrne said, “There are certainly global threats. Malabar is not focused on any specified threat. It is directed towards three countries India, Japan and United States. It is not directed towards any specific country or threat.”
As many as 95 aircraft, 16 ships and two submarines from the three countries are taking part in the Naval exercise. Taking part in the trilateral naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal would be US Ship Nimitz (CVN68), guided missile cruise USS Princeton (CG59), guided missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG83), USS Shoup (DDG86) and USS Kidd (DDG100), a Poseidon P-8A aircraft as well as a Los Angeles fast-attack submarine.
Besides, Japan Maritime Self Defence Force ships JS Izumo (DDH 183), JS Sazanami (DD1 13) along with Indian Naval Ship Jalashwa and INS Vikramaditya would participate in the joint Naval exercise, an official press release said. The 21st edition of the exercise, conducted ashore and at-sea, would include professional exchanges on carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare.
Medical operations, damage control, explosive ordinance disposal, helicopter operations and anti-submarine warfare would also take place. The at-sea exercise includes events such as submarine familiarisation, air defence exercises, medical evacuation drills, surface ware fare exercises, communication exercise and search and rescue operations. Indian, Japanese and the US maritime forces have an understanding and knowledge of shared working environment at the sea. The joint naval exercise is a demonstration of a 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.