Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Guam, United States (4E) – Warships, submarines, warplanes and personnel from the Indian Navy (IN), the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the U.S. Navy are about to wrap up the 2018 edition of “Exercise Malabar,” a war game that tests scenarios pitting these three navies against the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in the event of a war against China in the Indo-Pacific.
The 22nd edition of Exercise Malabar was held off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea from June 7 to 16. It was the first time Exercise Malabar was held in United States territory.
The Indian Navy was represented by the INS Sahyadri (F49), a Shivalik-class stealth multi-role frigate; the INS Kamorta (P28), a Kamorta-class stealth corvette; the Deepak-class fleet tanker INS Shakti (A57) and a Boeing Poseidon P-8I Neptune advanced ASW and ASuW aircraft.
The U.S. Navy was represented by nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) with its Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG-5); two guided missile cruisers, USS Antietam (CG-54) and USS Chancellorsville (CG-62); two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, USS Benfold (DDG-65) and USS Mustin (DDG-89); a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine and a Boeing Poseidon P-8A aircraft.
The JMSDF was represented by a helicopter carrier JS Ise (DDH-182) and its air wing; two missile destroyers, the JS Suzunami (114) and JS Fuyuzuki (118); a Kawasaki P-1 patrol aircraft and a diesel-electric attack submarine.
Exercise Malabar was held amid increased Chinese militarization of its artificial islands in the South China Sea and the deployment of PLAN submarines to the Indian Ocean. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Malabar 2018 represents the U.S. commitment to working with regional powers in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Malabar consisted of two phases: ashore and at-sea training. The harbor phrase took place at Naval Base Guam from June 7 to 10 while the sea phase lasted from June 11 to 16 in the Philippine Sea. The at-sea part saw military-to-military coordination and capacity to plan and execute tactical operations in a multinational environment against the PLAN.
Exercise Malabar began in 1992 as a joint Indo-US naval drill. But it was suspended from 1998 to 2002 after India conducted nuclear weapons tests in 1998. This year marks the 22nd edition of the exercise which has now become an annual feature in the deep military ties between the U.S. and India. Japan became a permanent participant in 2015.
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