At a time when India and the US are looking to take their defence ties to the next level, India has received a ringing endorsement from a senior Pentagon official. “India presents a wonderful opportunity for us. They share our values and our norms. One of my objectives is to improve that relationship with India,” Admiral Harry B Harris, Commander of the US Pacific Command (PACOM), told members of Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing on maritime security strategy in the Asia Pacific.
The Obama administration has been focusing on strengthening defence ties with India through initiatives such as Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), which would promote indigenization of India’s military-defence complex through transfer of technology and co-development of cutting-edge weaponry. The next big frontier in India-US defence ties is the joint building of an aircraft carrier.
The US is working with the Indian Navy on aircraft carrier technology sharing and design. As a part of the process, the two countries have set up a US-India Joint Aircraft Carrier Working Group (JACWG).
The aircraft carrier working group held its first formal meeting in August. David B Shear, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, was in India recently to hold talks with Indian officials on developing strategies to implement the vision of US President Barack Obama, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi with regard to the Asia Pacific region.
Mr Shear also spoke about the joint vision statement on Asia-Pacific issued by the two countries during President Obama’s visit to India. The US and India are in the process of implementing that joint strategic vision and the development of the aircraft carrier signifies the progress made by the two countries. India and the US are also conducting Yudh Abhyas, a joint military exercise between the two countries to enhance military cooperation. The plan to include Japan in the Malabar exercises has been welcomed by India and the US.
The two countries are looking to enhance their maritime cooperation as the two countries have common interests, especially in the Indian Ocean region. China’s assertion in the region has led to stronger cooperation between India and US, along with Japan and Australia, who are wary of China’s growing strength in the region.
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