Two important maritime developments in 2021 will influence events in the Indian Ocean for quite some time. The first was the tripartite defense agreement among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (AUKUS) announced in September with a suddenness that took everyone—except a tight group of negotiators—by surprise. The agreement covers several areas of technology hardware and cooperation. It rocked the boat, however, because its main thrust was to help Australia buy and/or build nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs). Canberra had for years ruled nuclear-powered submarines out, until suddenly ruling them in.1 There is some irony in Australia choosing to switch to nuclear-powered submarines after canceling the French-designed diesel submarines (SSKs) based on an SSN design. France—an Indian and Pacific Ocean nation because of its colonial holdings—was very upset about the AUKUS agreement.
1. RADM Sudarshan Shrikhande, IN (Ret.), “Australia-India: Alliances and Self-Reliance,” Australian Naval Institute, 3 October 2021.
2. India Ministry of External Affairs, “Joint Statement from Quad Leaders,” 24 September 2021.
3. RADM Sudarshan Shrikhande, IN (Ret.), “For a Secure Indo-Pacific, Grow the Quad,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 146, no. 8 (August 2020): 41–42.
4. India Ministry of External Affairs, “Joint Statement.”
5. Dinakar Peri, “Quad Grouping a Diplomatic Arrangement Says Visiting U.S. Admiral,” The Hindu (India), 28 February 2022.
6. Owigwe Eguegu and Javayirah Kultum Aatif, “Iran’s Membership Raises the SCO’s Profile and Expectations,” The Diplomat, 21 September 2021.
7. The Pakistan Navy, “Multinational Maritime Exercise Aman-21,” Navy News, March 2021.
8. Combined Maritime Forces, “CTF150 Seizes Record Amount of Illegal Drugs in 2021,” 9 December 2021.
9. ADF Magazine Staff, “Illegal Fishing Emerges as Africa’s Main Maritime Security Threat,” Africa Defense Forum, 5 January 2022.
10. Niharika Mandana, “China Is Selling Thailand a Submarine: The Problem Is No Engines,” The Wall Street Journal, 14 March 2021.
11. “Chief of Naval Staff Inaugurates the Establishment of the Indonesian Military Command,” VOI News (Indonesia), 3 February 2022.