The Young Defence Officer Exchange Program aims to facilitate exchange of young officers of the Indian and Australian armed forces for joint training and military-to-military exposure.

During the recently concluded India-Australia virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on March 21, both leaders had discussed the Russia-Ukraine conflict, issues in the Indo-Pacific region and also talked about strengthening bilateral trade relations.

After the summit, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs had also announced the list of documents signed, that included launching of the young defence officer exchange program.

The exchange program has been named after India’s first Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, who was killed in a helicopter crash in December last year. General Rawat was India’s first chief of defence staff, a position established to oversee reforms to the military and the civilian-military bureaucracy. He took up the role in January 2020 after serving as India’s top army officer.

In a Twitter post yesterday, Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell has hailed the contributions made by General Rawat and announced that the Australia-India Young Defence Officer Exchange Program was to be named in his honour. The post further carried the salient points of the program:

“In a befitting tribute to General Bipin Rawat, Australia and India announced the establishment of Young Defence Officers’ Exchange programme, naming it after India’s first Chief of Defence Staff”, it read.

It also added that the exchange program will facilitate the exchange of young officers of the Indian and Australian armed forces for joint training and military-to-military exposure and improve training opportunities, enhance information sharing on maritime security and promote ties and understanding between Australian and Indian defence forces.

Earlier on June 4, 2020, the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi had discussed maritime cooperation between the two Indo-Pacific partners during the first-ever bilateral Virtual Summit between the powers. The two countries had decided on Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region the year before, at the 2+2 Secretary Level Dialogue, where both countries had discussed the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement in New Delhi and for deeper military ties.

In November 2020, Australia had joined India, Japan and the United States for Exercise MALABAR 2020, a major joint maritime exercise that was aimed to establish a secure, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. Indian Navy’s Ranvijay, Shivalik, Shakti, Sukanya & submarine Sindhuraj participated in naval manoeuvres in Bay of Bengal with USS John S McCain, HMAS Ballarat & JMSDF Ship JS Onami. The four participating navies conducted a range of high-end training, including air defence and anti-submarine exercises, aviation, communications and at-sea replenishment between ships.