The relationship between India and the US is more closely aligned today than at any time in the past, a senior Pentagon official said, adding that they are focused on the long game that is building future partnerships and supporting India’s ability to build. Favorable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific.
We see the US-India partnership as central to our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. While there may be obstacles along the way, we are really focused on the long game that is building our partnership into the future and supporting India’s ability to create a favorable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region, said Dr. Ellie S. Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security at a virtual roundtable. Time told a group of journalists and think-tank experts.
He said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is scheduled to meet Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon on Monday. This comes after Austin’s lengthy telephone conversation with Defense Minister Rajnath Singh recently. Given a number of such engagements, it is indeed clear that the United States and India are more closely aligned in our relationship today than they have ever been in our history. What we see is strategic interest and a shared vision for the region in particular, we have made a lot of progress in the last few years based on our four basic agreements, he stressed.
The United States, Ratner said, is supporting India’s military modernization. This vision informs our top priorities for defense partnerships. The first priority, he said, is the department’s commitment to enhancing India’s military capabilities and deterrence and supporting its emergence as a defense industrial power.
In practical terms, this means that the United States continues to work closely with India, on co-production and co-development capabilities that will support India’s own defense modernization goals in its ability to export to its partners throughout the region, including the South. and Southeast Asia at affordable price points. This is something officials from the two countries discussed in their recent meeting, he said.
The Defense Department is keeping a close eye on near- and medium-term opportunities to co-produce major capabilities with India, he said, adding that they are having good conversations with the Indian government at the highest level about their respective priorities. We expect to have more to announce on this front before long, Ratner said. Second, the United States and India are seeking to deepen their operational cooperation and coordination with an eye toward confronting and matching their competitors across critical battle domains.
Within the maritime domain and our naval-to-naval relationship, we are achieving levels of cooperation that were previously unimaginable spanning information, new training and exercises, technical exchanges and collaboration on underwater domain awareness, which we know is a priority. He said, Indian Govt. On the industrial cooperation front, the US Navy is looking at additional opportunities for the Indian Navy to conduct mid-sea repairs at Indian shipyards. Those of you who follow these issues closely may have noted the historic repair of the Charles Drew in Chennai last month, which seemed truly groundbreaking in terms of developing our partnership and some of our synergies, especially as we work alongside the US military as well as the Indian military. For our combined operational reach in forces as well, he told the round table participants.
India and the US are also increasingly focused on working together more closely and in more joint ways in what we have heard referred to as new defense domains, such as cyberspace, artificial intelligence among other emerging technology areas. The two countries are working towards launching a new dialogue later this year that will help them expand cooperation across each of these key domains through a single dialogue focused on emerging technologies.
As we move into more advanced stages of our partnership, we are thinking more broadly about how we can work together in the broader regional architecture, including coalition settings with partners both inside and outside the region, he said. He acknowledged that the two countries have different views on issues like Russia and Pakistan where they have different histories.
We need to work together to manage near-term headwinds, especially as they relate to regions including Russia and Pakistan, where we have different histories, different strategic environments, and we need to work together to manage those differences, he said. Ratner said the two countries have a track record of working together on tough issues through sustained dialogue and a deep commitment to partnership. And at the end of the day, this partnership far outweighs any personal issues.
We have a shared vision for the Indo-Pacific and work together to ensure that the future is fruitful, he said.
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