(TibetanReview.net, Oct27’22) – Amid rising threats from an increasingly bellicose China, highlighted by the call for war-preparedness during the just-concluded 20th five-yearly congress of the Communist Party of China, India is to carry out a series of combat exercises before this year ends to further bolster military interoperability with friendly countries. This includes the Malabar quadrilateral naval wargames off Japan, infantry exercises with Australia and three Asean countries, and high-altitude warfare drills with the US near the Line of Actual Control with Chinese occupied Tibet, reported the timesofindia.com Oct 27.
For the top-notch Malabar exercise, India, the US, Japan and Australia will deploy warships, submarines, fighters, aircraft and helicopters off Yokosuka in Japan from Nov 8 to 18. This will be in keeping with the declaration by the four `Quad’ countries of their intent to deter any `coercion’ in the Indo-Pacific with an eye on China’s aggressive expansionist policies in the region.
The report noted that earlier this month, the new national security strategy (NSS) of the US said China was its only competitor with both the “intent and capability” to reshape the international order. “As India is the world’s largest democracy and a major defense partner, the US and India will work together, bilaterally and multilaterally, to support our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the NSS was quoted as saying.
Apart from the Quad countries, there is the AUKUS, which is a trilateral pact among the US, UK and Australia. The AUKUS will help Canberra to acquire nuclear submarines as important components of this policy to counter China’s expanding footprint in the Indo-Pacific.
The report noted that while dispatching multi-role stealth frigate INS Shivalik, anti-submarine corvette INS Kamorta and a P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft for the Malabar exercise – which will be preceded by Japan’s international fleet review – India was also gearing up for a major land exercise with the US.
This will be a battalion-level `Yudh Abhyas’ exercise between the Indian and US armies which will be held at Auli in Uttarakhand state, barely 100 km from the LAC with Chinese occupied Tibet, from Nov 15 to Dec 2.
This comes shortly after elite Special Forces of the two countries conducted the `Vajra Prahar’ exercise at Bakloh in Himachal Pradesh in August.
“With around 350 soldiers from each side, Yudh Abhyas will witness employment of integrated battle groups in mountains and extreme cold climate, along with heliborne elements and an integrated surveillance grid,” an officer was quoted as saying.
India’s military ties with Australia have been developing in recent time and the first-ever `Austra-Hind’ infantry combat exercise will be held at the Mahajan field firing ranges in Rajasthan from Nov 28 to Dec 11. “It will promote the capability to operate together in semi-desert terrain,” the officer has added.
India will also continue its military outreach to Asean countries and on Oct 26 kicked off the SIMBEX naval exercise with Singapore in the Bay of Bengal, while their armies will conduct the `Agni Warrior’ exercise at Deolali from Nov 13 to Nov 30.
The Indian Army will also undertake the `Harimau Shakti’ exercise in Malaysia from Nov 28 to Dec 13 and the `Garud Shakti’ in Indonesia from Nov 30 to Dec 15.
The report quoted another Indian officer as saying, “All such exercises build strategic cooperation and military interoperability with like-minded countries, with the armed forces also getting the opportunity to improve combat skills and operational tactics.”