India And The United States: Strengthening Defence And Security Ties

15/01/2015 8:01 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
NOAH SEELAM via Getty Images
An Indian vendor displays kites printed with the portraits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama, who is expected to visit India for the forthcoming Republic Day celebrations, ahead of the forthcoming Makar Sankranti kite festival in Hyderabad on January 7, 2015. The Makar Sankranti festival, which will be celebrated on January 14 this year, celebrates the beginning of the harvest season. AFP PHOTO / NOAH SEELAM (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

India and the United States relations are comprehensive and multi-faceted in nature and there is a new energy in India-US defence and security partnership. Relationship of the two countries has strengthened post 9/11 and resultantly, India-US have cooperated in sensitive intelligence sharing and joint counter-terrorism efforts. Both countries have been victims of terrorism and face common security threats and challenges such as global terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism and cyber-terrorism among others. India and the US are witnessing a marked change in the geo-political security complexion in the region in addition to long term challenges including managing the rise of China. The delicate security balance of South Asian region is undergoing a flux as Russia recently concluded a major military deal with Pakistan and is increasingly growing close to China. Amidst a transformative geo-political security backdrop, India and the US are posited to engage deeply on key strategic issues such as combating terrorism, enhancing counter-terrorism efforts, strengthening defence ties, homeland security cooperation and intelligence sharing mechanism.

The Charlie Hebdo massacre has once again laid bare the violent face of Islamic fundamentalism. As thousands marched to Republique Square in sorrow and defiance of the Paris terror attacks, it symbolized a world united against terrorism, embolic of freedom, prevalence of tolerance and the right to co-exist. At the Seventh edition of Vibrant Gujarat Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the Paris terror attack and expressed solidarity with the people of France and stressed the need for a zero-tolerance based approach. The two leaders stated that India and the US shared a responsibility to fight terrorism and remained committed to the freedom of the people. John Kerry would be travelling to France to reaffirm American solidarity with France. At the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), PM Modi stated that terrorism was taking "new shape, new name" and added that India is making concerted international efforts to fight these forces. In the US-India Joint Statement signed during PM Modi's visit to the US during September 2014, the leaders of both the countries stressed the need for joint and concerted efforts including the dismantling of safe havens for terrorist and criminal networks and to disrupt all financial and tactical support for networks such as Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the D-Company, and the Haqqanis.

Defence trade is steadily increasing and gaining momentum and there is a genuine willingness between the two countries to cooperate with each other on defence trade cooperation for co-development and co-production. In the first major political-military dialogue, a nine delegation member team headed by US Assistant Secretary of State, Puneet Talwar, discussed and finalised a set of "transformative defence technologies" for India under the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI). Strengthening of Indo-US defence ties is exemplified through instances like on-schedule arrival of P-8I aircraft to India which reinforces in-country partnership. On November 24, Boeing delivered the sixth P-8I maritime patrol aircraft to India at the INS Rajali Naval Air Station to join five other maritime patrol aircrafts that are a part of the contract of eight aircrafts to be delivered to India. The P-8I aircraft incorporates design features that are unique to India with some of the sub-systems also indigenously built in India. The two countries are also working together to safeguard maritime security, freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region.

There is visible enthusiasm surrounding President Obama's visit to India as the chief guest during India's Republic Day parade. In New Delhi, security apparatus from air-to-ground has been tightened and US security agencies are reviewing security arrangements of all the places President Obama is expected to visit. It is expected that during the visit, India-US would sign an important agreement on defence collaboration. The New Framework of Defence for US-India Defence Relationship, signed in 2005 which transformed the complexion of India-US defence and security ties, is due to be extended and signed during the President's visit. India's Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar opined that signing of the 10-year defence agreement pact is one of the possibilities and strengthening of the existing framework and enhancement of its scope is going to be beneficial for India. Reportedly, Frank Kendall the US under Secretary for Defence Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics would also arrive in India before the President's visit to discuss Indo-US defence cooperation. Whilst there is an overall positive outlook on India-US ties, especially on the defence and security side, it is clear that India is looking for more co-production and joint-development of technology initiatives rather than just acquisitions. Like myriad arenas wherein Indo-US partner with each other, defence co-production and co-development would be another area which would prove to be mutually symbiotic.

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