Exercise MILAN: 16 Countries to Participate in Naval Exercise at Port Blair

India will host navies from at least 16 countries for the mega naval exercise “MILAN 2018” under the Andaman and Nicobar Command. The exercise is taking place in the backdrop of China’s growing military posturing in the IOR. The exercise, themed “Friendship Across the Seas”, will be held from March 6 to March 13, 2018.

About Exercise Milan:

Exercise Milan is conducted biennially by Indian Navy under the Andaman and Nicobar Command with friendly foreign navies. It was first held in 1995 where 4 navies had participated in it apart from India – Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Milan was first held in 1995. Since then, the event has been held biannually except for 2001, 2005, and 2016. The 2001 and 2016 editions were not held because of the International Fleet Review, while the 2005 event was postponed to 2006 due to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

Today, Exercise Milan is a huge international event where navies from Bay of Bengal, South East Asia and Indian Ocean Region participates. It provides effective forum to participating navies to come together to discuss common concerns in the Indian Ocean Region and forge deeper cooperation among friendly navies.

The 16 countries which were sent invitation to participate are:
  1. Australia
  2. Malaysia
  3. Maldives
  4. Mauritius
  5. Myanmar
  6. New Zealand
  7. Oman
  8. Vietnam
  9. Thailand
  10. Tanzania
  11. Sri Lanka
  12. Singapore
  13. Bangladesh
  14. Indonesia
  15. Kenya
  16. Cambodia

Diverse professional exercises, seminars, social events and sporting fixtures will be organized in Milan 2018. Views and ideas on maritime good-order and enhancing regional cooperation for combating unlawful activities at sea will be shared between the countries.

Maldives Decline the Offer:

Maldives was invited to join the Milan exercise but they have declined. They have not given any reason for the decision. It may have taken the decision possibly due to the current situation there. Also the participation of Maldives Naval Officers would have been as observers only.

Ties between India and Maldives weakened a bit after Maldives declared emergency. On February 21, India had reacted strongly over the extension of emergency by a month.

Maldives and India enjoy a long history of excellent defence and military cooperation and it is a tradition that we are confident that will endure and continue indefinitely.

What is there to gain through Exercise Milan 2018:

The interactions during Milan encompass sharing of views and ideas on maritime good order and enhancing regional cooperation for combating unlawful activities at sea

China’s growing military posturing in the Indo-Pacific region will be addressed during the meet. India, the US and several other nations have been pressing for freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea. Also, 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 influence

The naval exercise will also provide benefits for participant countries as well. For smaller countries in particular which lack capacity, like Myanmar and Vietnam, they’ll get the opportunity to interact with a number of significant strategic countries.

The India Navy had also announced that the Indian Army’s amphibious forces, which are specialist units used to assault and capture island targets, were also participating in the exercise.

Conclusion:

‘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.

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