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U.S., India, Japan Navies Start Malabar Exercise Tomorrow in Guam

Ships from the Indian navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the U.S. Navy sail in formation in the Bay of Bengal during exercise Malabar 2017. US Navy photo.

The U.S. Navy is hosting naval forces from India and Japan in Guam for the annual Malabar Exercise, set to start Thursday in the Philippine Sea.

This is the first year Guam is hosting the annual exercise in which participants will practice surface and anti-submarine warfare operations, combined carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, and visit, board, search, and seizure operations, according to a Navy statement.

The Malabar 2018 exercise represents the U.S. commitment to working with regional powers in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said last week when he unveiled the new name of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at a ceremony welcoming Adm. Phil Davidson in his new role taking the helm of that combatant command.

“In recognition of the increasing connectivity, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, today we rename the U.S. Pacific Command to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Over many decades, this command has repeatedly adapted to changing circumstance, and today carries that legacy forward as America focuses west,” Mattis said at the ceremony.

While not mentioned in any public statements released by the Malabar participants, the recent activities of China, notably its program of building artificial islands in the South China Sea and sending submarines into the Indian Ocean, loom over the exercise.

So far this year, Chinese government officials have remained quiet about the upcoming exercise. Before last year’s Malabar, though, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said the country had no objection to cooperation among countries but that “we hope such relations and cooperation are not targeted at a third party and are conducive to regional peace and stability,” according to an English translation of the briefing released by the Foreign Ministry.

Yet behind the scenes, Chinese officials are suspected of expressing more concern over the exercise. In January, Australian officials sounded hopeful their naval forces would be invited to rejoin the Malabar exercise, according to Australian media reports. But the Australians, who have participated in past iterations of the Malabar exercise, were ultimately not invited. Commentators in both India and Australia suspect China pressured the Indian government to not invite Australia.

The U.S. Navy forces participating in Malabar include Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and its carrier air wing, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG-54) and USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Benfold (DDG-65) and USS Mustin (DDG-89).

India is sending two indigenously designed and built ships, the multi-purpose stealth frigate INS Sahyadri (F-49) and anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kamorta (P-28), as well as its fleet tanker INS Shakti (A-57).

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force is sending Hyuga-class helicopter carrier JS Ise (DDH-182), Takanami-class destroyer JS Suzunami (DD-114), and Akizuki-class destroyer JS Fuyuzuki (DD-118).

  • DaSaint

    I doubt India succumbed to Chinese pressure. India sees itself as a counter to China.

    I think it more likely that the US didn’t invite Australia, as punishment for their intelligence agencies participation in the Russia Probe.

    • muzzleloader

      I find that hard to believe, as vital an ally that Australia is, especially when the Aussie military had nothing to do with what you are referring to.

    • Ujagar Singh

      No way can China pressurize India in such matters. Please continue your research why the Aussies were not invited…

      • DaSaint

        I agree. I don’t see any way that China could successfully pressure India.

  • .Hugo.

    look at that structure:

    iDOTytimgDPTcom/vi/OvTylbeC-qs/maxresdefault.jpg

    just how stealthy can the sahyadri be?

    • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

      Morning in Bejing?

      • .Hugo.

        can you tell how stealthy it is instead?

        • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

          No, I am to busy diagnosing the failed solar cell in my plastic cat that waves it’s arm endlessly that I bought at the Dollar General store.

          Seems I have to order a replacement from China?

          • .Hugo.

            you may have to as you could only pay a dollar for the low end product and could not afford to pay $30 for the same chinese made but high end one. 🙂
            .

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            So the made in China label is fake. Ahhh, there is the problem. It is nice that you take the time to comment, I figured you were busy stealing secrets?

            Next time, I will be sure to buy my daughter a real Chinese toy.

          • .Hugo.

            of course it’s not fake, only you could only afford the lowest quality tier, so who you blame but your very self? 🙂
            .
            and stealing secrets? sounds like it’s so easy for u.s. secrets to be stolen, haha….

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            So they make a 30 dollar cat that waves it’s arm and is still solar powered? Silly me.

          • .Hugo.

            sure, really silly you when that directly reflects investment on r&d and quality assurance. as you could only a buy cheap one so all of those were waived. you have bet on a lower price and you have lost. 🙂
            .

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            Ever hear the expression “taking the piss”?

          • .Hugo.

            all i have to know is that you have been stingy and that has cost you.