India plays a critical role in America’s long-term national security interests in not only the region but also around the globe, a top US Senator has said as his legislation seeking stronger defence ties with New Delhi was passed by the Senate. The observations were made by Senator Mark Warner, Co- Chair of the Senate India Caucus who had co-sponsored another amendment with powerful Republican Senator Ted Cruz to get it passed by the Senate. The amendment asks the Pentagon to develop a strategy of defence cooperation between the US and India. “India plays a critical role in our long-term national security interests, not just in the region, but around the globe. Our measure helps define the goals of that strategic partnership and the benefits of deepening US-India defence cooperation,” Warner said.
An amendment moved by Warner which sought stronger defence ties with India was passed by the Senate as part of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018. It was co-sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz and John Corning. The US Senate has overwhelmingly approved the nearly USD 700 billion defence spending bill for 2018 which seeks to develop a strategy for Indo-US defence cooperation and adopts a tough approach on Pakistan’s action against terror outfits like the Haqqani network and the LeT. As part of the NDAA 2018, the legislation was passed 89 to 8 votes with Senators also approving several India-centric amendments aimed at increasing the defence relationship between the two countries.
“I’m pleased it was included in the defence authorisation bill that passed the Senate. I look forward to our language being included in the final defence authorisation bill and being signed into law so that the administration has clear guidance in how to continue to foster this important relationship,” Warner said.
This legislation further institutionalises the US government’s focus on the US-India security relationship. The legislation requires the Secretary of Defence, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation, promote defence job creation, further articulate the benefits of Major Defence Partner status, promote the competitiveness of US defence exports to India, and designate a US government official explicitly tasked with meeting these responsibilities. Senator Dan Sullivan noted that as the world’s largest democracies, the US and India share many common values and have many “overlapping interests”, especially in the area of defence. “I am happy to see that the National Defence Authorisation Act, which just passed the Senate, included language demonstrating support for trilateral cooperation between the US, India, and Afghanistan. This collaboration will help strengthen the sovereignty and security of Afghanistan, which is both a regional and global interest,” he said.
The US-India Business Council Director of Aerospace and Defence, Ben Schwartz said that the US elevates defence cooperation to a level commensurate with the closest of allies and partners. “This amendment sends an important message to both the executive branch and the Indian government, reaffirming that as a major defence partner, the US government elevates defence trade and technology cooperation to a level commensurate with the closest of allies and partners,” said .