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According to Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, Chief of Joint Operations, Australia, India and Australia have reached a level of tactical interoperability, and there is a chance to start coordinating activities and utilizing both countries resources to be able to achieve better levels of situational awareness. This represents a significant deepening of military cooperation.
He also added that the joint naval, aviation, and maritime operations in the Indian Ocean are where the state’s (India-Australia) interests initially overlap.
“We are not at a position in our relationship where we coordinate our operations in the Indian Ocean and other parts of the Indo-Pacific. Instead, we are at a point where we defuse problems and inform each other of the actions we are conducting”. Speaking at the India Defence Conclave hosted by the news portal Bharat Shakti on Wednesday, Lieutenant General Bilton expressed his opinion that there was a chance to coordinate the efforts and make use of the resources of both countries in order to be able to achieve higher levels of situational awareness.
The Key Factor in India-Australia Military Cooperation
He went on to explain that the sharing of intelligence and information is one of the key factors that has contributed to the development of bilateral military cooperation. Since November of last year, my headquarters has delivered 31 intelligence dossiers about events in the Indian Ocean to the Indian military system via our Defence Attaché. It’s alright. Lt. Gen. Bilton said, “I want to get to the point where we can supply straight to an operational headquarters.
He claimed that what he was offering was a chance to “operationalize our relationship,” adding that there was also an appetite to advance to a “more sophisticated level.” The Gen emphasized that in order to establish confidence, it is important to share information and be transparent.
Vice-Admiral Dinesh Tripathi, Western Naval Commander, noted during the same session on the Indo-Pacific that we are currently witnessing a simultaneous state of transition in geopolitics, technology, and security sector tactics. “At the same time, everyone is in a state of instability.”
The Indian Navy is keeping a careful eye on events, and it is cooperating with all friendly foreign nations since, in his words, cooperation through collaboration, consensus, and communication is the only means of moving forward.
The Indo-Pacific Focus
Lt. Gen. Bilton explained that Australia is concentrating more on the Indo-Pacific because of the strategic situation in this area of the Indo-Pacific. It has been a complete tilt for this region, he added. He emphasized the significant interests and contributions made over the past 20 years via Afghanistan and Iraq. He also spoke on the growth of Chinese militarisation and its expansion into Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, and the South West Pacific through island chains.
Additionally, he stated that they are very interested in cooperating with allies to uphold the international order based on norms. “Australians believe that we are unable to deter major nations on our own”. However, Lt. Gen. Bilton emphasized that Australia’s primary policy is to build relationships of trust and openness with partners and allies that allow us to retaliate against bad behaviour wherever it occurs.
India and Australia elevated their bilateral relationship from a ‘strategic partnership’ in 2009 to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ in 2020. Several institutional frameworks have been put in place in recent years to enhance bilateral collaboration. High-level visits, Annual Prime Ministers Meetings, 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministers Framework Dialogue, Foreign Ministers Dialogue, Joint Trade and Commerce Ministerial Commission, Australia-India Education Council, Defence Policy Talks, Defence Services Staff Talks, JWGs on various issues, Energy Dialogue and so on are examples of bilateral mechanisms.
“I am committed to strengthening Australia’s ‘defence and security’ cooperation with India. Australia is ready to work closely with India to support an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific”, said Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles during a visit to India in June 2022.