Indo-US Defence Cooperation critical component of bilateral relations: MEA  

By: |
September 21, 2021 7:39 PM

There is a significant agenda in the defence sector – later this year there will be the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between the two countries, a meeting of the defence policy group is also expected to take place. And the focus will be on operationalising the agreements in the defence sector between India and the US.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United States Secretary of Defence Lloyd James Austin IIIPrime Minister Narendra Modi with United States Secretary of Defence Lloyd James Austin III (File photo). The visit of PM Modi to the US comes at a time when a new military alliance has emerged — AUKUS (Australia, the UK, and the US). The formation of a new alliance is being seen as a strategic step to counter China's presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Enhancing defence and security cooperation between India and the US is one of the important components of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US starting tomorrow (September 22, 2021). Both countries are already engaged are different levels and are working towards deepening the Comprehensive Global Strategic partnership.

According to Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla, “As far as Defence Cooperation is concerned, India and the US have come a long way. The two countries have inked four foundational agreements; the two countries are already working together in co-production, innovation and interoperability in the Defence sector.”

Adding, “During the discussions between the leaders of the two countries further enhancing the defence and security ties will be topping the agenda.”

There is a significant agenda in the Defence Sector – later this year there will be the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue between the two countries, a meeting of the Defence Policy group is also expected to take place. And the focus will be on operationalising the agreements in the defence sector between India and the US.

India has already been designated as a Major Defense Partner (MDP), and both sides have been working towards the expansion of the scope of MDP but also further strengthen defence and security cooperation. As reported earlier, India is already one of the top countries which have been identified by the US to get license free exports, re-exports and transfers under the under License Exception Strategic Trade Authorization (STA-1).

The 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

India and the US have this format of talks. This same format of talks has been adopted with Japan and Australia, who are also member countries of the QUAD.

Later this year, India and Russia too will have the first ever 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue here in New Delhi.

Talks in the US

The visit of PM Modi to the US comes at a time when a new military alliance has emerged — AUKUS (Australia, the UK, and the US). The formation of a new alliance is being seen as a strategic step to counter China’s presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

 The Biden administration has reached out to India and has assured that the new alliance is not going to have an impact on the bilateral relations with India or affect the multilateral form like the QUAD. This was the assurance given by the US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin in a telephonic conversation with defence minister Rajnath Singh.

The telephone call by the US defence secretary came just ahead of PM Modi’s visit to Washington for the first in-person Quad summit, bilateral meeting with the US President Joe Biden on September 24 and then UNGA address.

According to an official statement issued by the Ministry of Defence, the two leaders discussed defence cooperation, the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, combating terrorism, regional and bilateral matters.

According to sources during the phone call India expressed concern over the large number of US weapons, equipment left behind including rifles, Humvees, drones which are now in the possession of the Taliban.

India-US Defence Cooperation

India and the US are expected to reach a target of USD 25 billion in military trade over the next few years. So far the trade between the two countries stands at around USD 20 billion over 15 years.

Most of the military trade is through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route and Direct Commercial sale.

They both share a vision of free and open Indo-Pacific.

Agreements inked with the US

Several agreements including the Industrial Security Agreement (ISA), Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), and Indo-US Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA). BECA is the last of the agreements inked and it is about exchange of Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) information.

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