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Thursday 3 November 2011

We will advance defense relationship with India: Pentagon

We will advance defense relationship with India: Pentagon
Nov 2, 2011

Washington: Saying that India’s importance for the US would grow in the long-run, a Pentagon report has favoured a mutually beneficial defence relationship between the two countries.
The Pentagon is working towards a series of steps, including co-development of armaments, transfer of some of its most advanced technologies, to strengthen military to military co-operation between the US and India, it said in its one-of-its kind rare report on India submitted to the US Congress.
“Over the next five years, we will continue to build the support structures necessary to ensure the maturation of a robust and mutually beneficial defense relationship with India in the Asia-Pacific and globally,” it said.

“We will advance the defense relationship by deepening people-to-people ties through continued military-to-military engagements, implementing agreed upon cooperation and pursuing new avenues of collaboration with particular emphasis on maritime security and counter-terrorism activities and
expanding defense trade and armaments cooperation,” the Pentagon said.
The nine-page report was submitted to the Congress as directed by the apex American legislative body in its latest budget passed this year.
“The Department of Defense delivered the US-India Security Cooperation Report, which was requested in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012,” the Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
The one-time report provides a current status of US-India relations and outlines ways to enhance bilateral security cooperation in the future, Little said in a statement.
Asserting that it is in the US’ interest to support India’s rise through military-to-military ties, arms sales and exercises, the Congress in its annual budget for the fiscal 2012 had sought a report from Pentagon by 1 November on a five-year action plan to strengthen bilateral defense relations.
“It is in the national interest of the United States, through military-to-military relations, arms sales, bilateral and multilateral joint exercises and other means, to support India’s rise and build a strategic and military culture of cooperation and interoperability between our two countries, in particular with regard to the Indo-Pacific region,” the Congress had said.
The powerful Senate Armed Services Committee had said that it believed that a deepening global strategic partnership between the US and India would be critical to the maintenance and expansion of a rules-based international system that promotes freedom, democracy, security, prosperity and the rule of law in the 21st century.
In its report the Pentagon said the relationship between the US and India — what the US President, Barack Obama, had called one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century — is a priority for the US government and for the US Department of Defense.
“The United States and India are natural partners, destined to be closer because of shared interests and values and our mutual desire for a stable and secure world. A strong bilateral partnership is in US interests and benefits both countries,” it said.
“We expect India’s importance to US interests to grow in the long-run as India, a major regional and emerging global power, increasingly assumes roles commensurate with its position as a stakeholder and a leader in the international system,” said the report.
Pentagon also expressed willingness to enhance its co-operation with India in the fields of maritime security and counter-terrorism, especially through special operations engagements.
“As our robust exercise slate and ongoing operational cooperation demonstrate, some of the most promising US-India defense cooperation takes place in the maritime domain,” it said.
“As we look to build on our successes, we will work together to ensure that we actualize the cooperation already agreed upon in the 2006 Indo-US Framework for Maritime Security Cooperation,” the report said.
“Deepening maritime security cooperation with India holds great potential over the next five years across a range of issues, including, but not limited to, maritime domain awareness and countering piracy,” it said.
On the counter-terrorism front, the United States continues to focus on Al-Qaeda and other terrorist threats that emanate from South Asia, it said.
For some of these groups, particularly Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), India remains the primary target, the report said.
“LeT’s activities continue to threaten US interests and South Asian regional stability. Therefore, we will continue to follow the guidance of our National Strategy for Counter-terrorism which calls for joining with key partners, like India, to share the burdens of our common security goals,” it said.
“In doing so, we will seek to expand counter-terrorism cooperation with India, and our current special operations engagements in the region will continue to focus on the mutually beneficial ways in which we can enhance each other’s capabilities,” the Pentagon said.
“In both instances, DoD will work with the State Department and other inter agency colleagues as appropriate to work with India in the emerging Asian regional security architecture and other multilateral forums, such as the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus,” the report said.
The Pentagon said it plans to conduct increasingly complex joint and combined exercises with a focus on counter-terrorism, maritime security and HA/DR across all of the Services.
“Additionally, we will work together to convert the skills attained during these exercises into practical cooperation and action,” it said.
“As we continue to expand operational coordination in the Indian Ocean, we should continue to seek opportunities to exercise multilaterally with partners in the region,” the Pentagon said.
“These habits of cooperation could facilitate timely responses to crises, such as those often triggered in the region by natural disasters,” it said.
Observing that India’s capability and capacity to participate in counter-piracy operations has been demonstrated consistently during the annual MALABAR exercise and in its counter piracy operations off its west coast, the Pentagon said the US appreciated India’s deployment of naval vessels to support counter-piracy operations through the SHADE (Shared Awareness and Deconfliction) mechanism.
“We will increasingly seek Indian participation and leadership in external operations or exercises related to interdiction, piracy, and port access,” it said.
The United States appreciated India’s continued contribution to the counter-piracy mission in the western Indian Ocean and would support India’s leadership role in regional counter-piracy efforts, it said.
The Pentagon said that the US Navy would like to work with the Indian Navy to improve capabilities to perform higher-end, operational missions in the Indian Ocean region as the strategic context dictates.

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