The US, Australia, Japan, and India will hold joint naval exercises for the second year in a row. The four countries make up the group known as the Quad, a US-led effort that is viewed as a possible foundation for a NATO-style anti-China alliance in Asia.
The drills, known as the Malabar Exercise, will be held off Guam and begin on Thursday, and will run for four days. Two Indian warships arrived in Guam on Sunday to prepare for the drills.
The Malabar is an Indian-led exercise that began in 1992 and started as a joint US-Indian drill. Japan joined the exercise in 2015, and Australia joined last year, marking the first time since 2007 that all quad countries held military exercises together.
In previous years, India was hesitant to allow Australia to participate over the fear of sending the wrong message to China. But with tensions high between Beijing and New Delhi, India has stepped up cooperation with the Quad and US allies in the region.
An Indian Navy spokesman said this year’s Malabar Exercise will feature “complex surface, subsurface and air operations including live weapon firing drills, anti-surface, anti-air, and anti-submarine warfare drills, and joint maneuvers and tactical exercises.”
Boosting cooperation between allies in the region is a major aspect of the Biden administration’s anti-China policies, and President Biden has made it clear that he views the Quad as vital to this strategy. In March, Biden held a virtual meeting with the leaders of India, Japan, and Australia, marking the first-ever Quad summit.