India will host navies from at least 16
countries for an eight-day mega naval exercise from March 6 with an aim to
expand regional cooperation and combat unlawful activities in critical sea
lanes, says an Indian Defense release.
The biennial exercise 'Milan' is being
organised at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the backdrop of China's growing
military posturing in the Indo-Pacific region and officials said the issue is
likely to figure during deliberations among navy chiefs of the participating
countries at the event.
"The interactions during Milan
encompass sharing of views and ideas on maritime good order and enhancing
regional cooperation for combating unlawful activities at sea,"
Spokesperson of Indian Navy Capt D K Sharma said.
He said the countries which are
participating in the exercise include Australia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius,
Myanmar, New Zealand, Oman, Vietnam, Thailand, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Singapore,
Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya and Cambodia.
Besides fostering cooperation through
naval exercises and professional interactions, Capt Sharma said 'Milan' will
also provide an opportunity to the participating navies to nurture stronger
ties in dealing with various security challenges.
India, the US and several other nations
have been pressing for freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea.
Officials said China's military manoeuvres
in the South China Sea may figure during discussions among navy chiefs of the
participating countries at the event.
In November, India, the US, Australia and
Japan gave shape to the long-pending quadrilateral coalition to develop a new
strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of Chinese
"From an event of sub-regional
context, Milan has now grown into a prestigious international event and
encompasses participation by maritime forces from not just the Bay of Bengal
and South East Asia but the larger Indian Ocean Region (lOR)," Sharma
'Milan' was first held in 1995 with the
participation of just five navies. The aim of the initiative was to have an
effective forum to discuss common concerns in the Indian Ocean Region and forge
deeper cooperation among friendly navies.
The exercise is being hosted by the Indian
Navy under the aegis of the Andaman and Nicobar Command.