October 04, 2015

Malabar Exercises: Cog in US Strategy

THE Malabar joint naval exercises, to be conducted between October 14 and 21, illustrates the tightening India-US military collaboration. The Malabar exercises began in 1992 as joint naval exercises between the Indian and US navies. Subsequently, joint exercises were extended to the air forces and armies of the two countries. It got expanded and institutionalised with the Indo-US defence framework agreement that was signed in June 2005. The Malabar exercises are notable this year, for the trilateral nature of the exercise. The Japanese navy is participating in the exercise to be conducted in Indian waters. This reflects the strengthening of the trilateral security ties established between India, USA and Japan. In fact, the United States has been pressing for the upgrading of these bilateral exercises by including Japan and Australia. The US Defence Department is on record that it wants the joint exercise to comprise the four countries. This is part of the US “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region, the aim of which is to contain China. That Narendra Modi is fully on board with the US strategy of rebalancing to Asia was evident when India signed a joint statement with the US on the Asia-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean during President Obama’s visit in January this year. Japan, which is now moving towards military operations abroad, has made it clear that it considers China’s moves in the South China sea and the region its prime concern for strengthening security ties with India. The United States is deploying a Nimitz class nuclear powered aircraft carrier, Theodore Roosevelt for the exercise. This carrier had participated in the aerial attacks in Serbia, Iraq and recently was deployed in support of the Saudi military action in Yemen. The US aim is to ensure “inter operability” of the two armed forces through such joint exercises. Thus, the Malabar exercises are a symbol that India is now fully integrated with the US military strategy in Asia. Such a strategic military tie up with the United States is harmful for India’s strategic independence and autonomy. India should not become a cog in the US military strategy in Asia. All patriotic and anti-imperialist forces should oppose the staging of the Malabar exercises. (September 30, 2015)