By Balaji Chandramohan, Australian Institute of International Affairs, 26 October 2015
As the three navies of India, the United States and Japan were involved in the annual tri-lateral naval exercise codenamed Malabar in the Bay of Bengal, it signalled a strategic and operational shift in how the three countries view their maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region. To start with, this year’s iteration of the exercise was marked by the participation of Japan as a permanent member of the annual drill for the first time. Earlier, Japan’s Maritime Self Defence Force participated in the exercise in 2007, 2009 and 2014 as an invitee, which elicited much protest from China.
The Malabar series began in 1992 after the end of the Cold War when India first began to recognise the United States as a potential strategic partner, if not an ally.