New Delhi: Noting that there is immense interoperability between the navies of the Quad grouping, Indian Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh Wednesday said they can come together in “almost a plug and play mechanism” if a military need arises in the Indo-Pacific region.
The statement is likely to rile up China, which sees the Quad as a grouping aimed at it.
Admiral Philip Scot Davidson, Commander of the US’s Indo-Pacific Command, identified the Quad as a strategic opportunity diplomatically, military and economically, as he designated China as “the greatest strategic threat” to rules-based international order.
Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue Wednesday, the two navy leaders discussed the potential of the Quad and agreed that there are many new spheres of engagement where the grouping can come together and also include more like-minded countries.
High level of interoperability
Asked about the future of Quad military in terms of joint patrolling and others, Admiral Singh said the Quad started as a consultative grouping and has evolved and grown organically. “There is no dearth of issues that it can handle and we have a robust engagement with the navies of all Quad members,” he said.
The Navy chief said the Quad navies already enjoy high degree of interoperability and highlighted that the Malabar exercise started with the US in 1992.
Similarly, he pointed out that India has been carrying bilateral naval exercises with Japan since 2012 and with the Australian Navy for the last six years.
“So if an opportunity arises, we have the capability and capacity to come together in almost a plug and play mechanism,” he said.
On his part, Admiral Davidson said the Quad has tremendous potential for cooperation, going far beyond the security sphere. “The vaccine approach is a powerful signal to the region that the Quad is working for the common good outside these four countries,” he said.
Noting that the Quad has gained momentum, Admiral Davidson said, “It’s a diamond of democracies in region… We should think about it in broadest possible terms.”
The top American naval officer in the region said China seeks to exploit the current global pandemic with increased military aggression throughout the Indo-Pacific. He added that China’s intent is to undermine international law and norms.
“China’s approach to the region includes efforts to coerce, corrupt and co-opt governments, businesses, organisation and ultimately the people of the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
The Indo-Pacific region is in competition between a closed and authoritarian ‘Beijing vision’ and the idea of a free and open Indo-Pacific, he stressed.
However, Davidson quickly added, “But competition does not mean conflict. The international community must do everything possible to deter conflict. A resilient network of like-minded partners is fundamental to deter aggression.”