International

Incredible Momentum In India-US Defence Relationship, Says Pentagon Official

The remarks by Siddharth Iyer, Director for South Asia, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy), Department of Defense, came at a roundtable on the future of the US-India Defence Partnership with a focus on technology collaboration and maritime strategy.

Incredible momentum in the US-India defence relationship
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There is a paradigm change and incredible momentum in the US-India defence relationship which is now defined more by the overall trajectory rather than by differences on key issues, a senior Pentagon official has said.

The remarks by Siddharth Iyer, Director for South Asia, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy), Department of Defense, came at a roundtable on the future of the US-India Defence Partnership with a focus on technology collaboration and maritime strategy. The roundtable was organised by The US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum and CUTS International, a non-profit body on trade relations.

“Incredible amount of progress (in India-US relationship) has been made not just in the last two years, but even the last 12 months. I think that just sort of underscores the degree to which there's incredible momentum and the relationship now is defined more by the pace and the sort of overall trajectory rather than by differences and divergences on key issues,” Iyer said.

“The overall paradigm of the relationship I think has changed, particularly from the perspective of the Department of Defense where I think historically security and defence cooperation has traditionally been viewed as an area sort of too sensitive or traditionally lags other areas of cooperation,” Iyer said.

According to Iyer, there are three areas of significance in the defence relationship.

“The first of course is technology cooperation which is pretty deep...Another area that I think for people who have watched this relationship over the decades where there's been sort of tremendous upward momentum has been in the area of operational sort of engagements between our militaries,” he noted.

The final area of growth in the partnership has been in the scope and texture of our high-level bilateral engagements, he said. "At least from the outside, it's apparent that there's just a very high frequency of engagements between our senior leaders, from the President, Prime Minister, our national security advisors and cabinet officials. It would be hard to find a month in the calendar year when there's not a high-level exchange, and then probably at least a handful of mid-level exchanges between our governments,” Iyer said.

Ryan Holliway, Political-Military Officer from the Department of State said America’s partnership with India is one of the most consequential relationships it has in the world. "We see this strategic partnership as a crucial pillar of a free and open Indo-Pacific and the 21st century,” he said.

“In a general sense, our exchange of global and strategic issues has never been deeper or more sensitive than it is today, which is a testing out to the close partnership at all levels of our government,” he added.

The launch of the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology or iCET last year has the potential for a quantum leap in the U- India relationship, said Pradeep Mehta, secretary general of CUTS International,

“It's a platform to accelerate our strategic conversions and policy alignment. The initiatives under the ICET are substantially complimenting defence and security as the vital pivot of India's ties with the US and the success of it was evident during the midterm review held at the level of the Deputy national security advisors in early December of 2023. … The scope has been expanded to cover many other sensitive areas,” he said.

“This shows and underscores the degree of cooperation and trust in the long way that we have come. I agree that the aim of India-US Technology Corporation is to harness talent, accelerate technology advancements, and broaden the innovation base through co-research and co-development, making a supply chain resilient with an overall intent to strengthen the multifaceted strategic partnership,” he said.

“It's an opportune moment for our relationship,” Mehta said.

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