Context: Parallel exercises in Indo-Pacific including a trilateral exercise between the U.S., Australia and Japan in the Philippines Sea, and an Indo-U.S naval exercise in the Indian
Ocean has fuelled speculation that Quadrilateral (Quad) exercises will be launched soon between all four navies.
More on the news:
- Indian government expected to take a decision on whether to include Australia in the Malabar exercises with Japan and the U.S. at a Defence Ministry meeting.
- The decision, if taken, could bring all Quad countries together as part of the annual war games.
- Japan and the U.S. have also been keen on Australia’s inclusion for some time now and have been pushing India to consider it.
- Shift from earlier stance:
- After years of reluctance by India for inclusion of Australia, it was finally open to the inclusion of the country in the Malabar as an observer.
- The inclusion of Australia in the Malabar exercises would surely mark a major shift for India’s Indo-Pacific plans.
- Signal to China:
- The move of expansion of Malabar exercise comes in the midst of the ongoing stand-off with China on the border, the biggest crisis along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in over five decades.
- And Australia’s inclusion would be surely seen as a possible first step towards the militarization of the Quad coalition, which has been opposed by China in the past.
- Repeated requests by Australia
- Since April 2017 Australia has made repeated requests to join the exercises.
- However, India did not include Australia in the exercises in 2018 and 2019, on the other hand, the bilateral AUSINDEX naval exercise expanded in scope and complexity.
- Recently, Australian PM also announced Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update, which has been termed a “significant pivot”
- It is a A$270 billion 10-year defence plan which includes, for the first time, land, sea and air-based long-range and hypersonic strike missiles for Australia.
Way ahead for India
- India has strengthened its naval ties with each of the other Quad countries, and there have been more interactions, formal and informal at the official, political and military levels.
- However, in 2018, at the Shangri La Dialogue, Indian PM had said that India sees the Indo-Pacific as a“geographical concept”, not a “strategy or a club of limited members”.
- A complicated decision:
- India needs to realise that unlike the U.S., Japan and Australia, which are tied by military alliances, India is a member of other strategic forums,
- such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation with China, Russia and Central Asia, BRICS and RIC, which appear to be at cross purposes with a Quad alliance.
- By involving in quad militarisation India would also be drawn into choosing its corner in the new Cold War that is developing between the U.S. and China.
Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD)
- It is an informal strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
- It is also known as the Quad.
- It has a shared objective of ensuring a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
- The idea of grouping was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007.
History of Quad grouping
- Formation of Quad :
- The Quad was originally born out of the crisis that followed the Tsunami in December 2004.
- India’s rescue mission in the Indian Ocean was coordinated with the three
other naval powers engaged in similar efforts — U.S., Australia and Japan
- The Quad effort was later handed over to the UN, but the idea of the IndoPacific as a larger maritime strategic community had been planted in the minds of all four nations.
- Early phase
- In 2007, when the annual India-U.S. ‘Malabar’ exercises were held in the Indian and Pacific oceans, first off Okinawa and a few months later, off Visakhapatnam, they included Japan, Australia and Singapore
- China’s stance:
- China has termed it as an attempt to build “an Asian NATO”
- China’s Navy had not at the time undergone its massive modernisation drive towards a blue water navy.
- However the U.S., which was trying to gain China’s support in the six party talks on North Korea, dampened enthusiasm for a Quad Foreign Ministers’ meeting
- Quad 2.0
- In 2017, again the Quad returned after a strained relationship with China of these four countries, now named Quad 2.0.
- All four countries met in Manila for the ‘India-Australia-Japan-U.S.’ dialogue.
- Quad grouping has met biannually since then, discussing “connectivity, sustainable development, counterterrorism, nonproliferation and maritime and cyber security, with a view to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly interconnected IndoPacific region”.
- An alternative to China’s BRI?
- The emphasis on connectivity has seen the Quad challenge China in another sphere.
- The counter has not yet made much headway, but each of the Quad countries is coordinating their responses on infrastructure projects in their spheres of influence. For example
- India and Australian efforts in the Pacific islands, India-U.S. coordination in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, and India-Japan joint efforts to develop projects in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
- It is an annual trilateral naval exercise between the navies of India, Japan, and the USA which is held alternately in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
- Malabar had begun as a bilateral naval exercise between India and the U.S. in 1992, and was expanded into a trilateral format with the inclusion of Japan in 2015.
- Other bilateral exercises between India and Australia are Pitch Black and AUSINDEX.
Image Source: TH