India and the United States have underlined their desire to have an advanced and comprehensive defence alliance in which their military work closely together across all disciplines.
The two sides praised the considerable and continuing progress in the India-US Major Defense Partnership in a joint statement issued at the completion of the India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue here on Monday.
“They emphasised their goals for developing an advanced and comprehensive defence alliance in which the US and Indian militaries interact closely across all areas,” the statement added, citing the momentum from the India-US Defence Policy Group meeting in October 2021.
The Indian team was led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, while the US side was represented by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The ministers emphasised the significance of constructing a comprehensive framework under which our military are able to exchange information in real-time across domains, as information-sharing is a vital pillar of India-US defence cooperation.
During a joint news conference, Singh stated that during the 2+2 Ministerial, the two countries had a very significant and in-depth discussion.
“This will assist us in preserving the momentum of our connection with India and moving forward with our activities. Our two major countries share complementary interests and a common desire to attain common objectives “Singh remarked.
“We talked about a variety of bilateral, defence, and global problems.” It was encouraging to see that, as the world’s largest democracies, we share common ground on the majority of issues. Both India and the United States share a vision of an Indo-Pacific and Indian Ocean region that is free, open, inclusive, and rules-based.
“Our collaboration is important for the Indo-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region’s peace, stability, and prosperity,” Singh added. Singh said he discussed “our evaluations of the scenario in our neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean Region” during the meeting. The use of terrorism as a tool of statecraft against India was discussed extensively, according to the defence minister.
India’s focus on building local capabilities and assisting in the provision of reliable defence supplies was stressed during the discussion.
The ministers pledged to collaborate closely across their ministries on co-production, co-development, joint testing of advanced systems, investment promotion, and the construction of Maintenance Repair and Overhaul facilities in India.
The ministers also emphasised the importance of the India-US Joint Technical Group (JTG) strengthening engagement in science and technology, as well as the evolution of new defence sectors like as space, artificial intelligence (AI), and cyber.
They emphasised the importance of collaboration in space and expressed enthusiasm for preparations to hold the first Defence Space Dialogue in 2022. They applauded the second Defense Cyber Dialogue, which took place in 2021, and anticipate the next round this year.
They decided to organise the first AI Dialogue this year in order to capitalise on potential for cooperative research and collaboration in new areas. The ministers also explored further training options for both military, with the US welcoming increased Indian involvement in advanced courses in these growing fields.
They applauded the work made toward completing the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which facilitates the exchange of geospatial data.
They stated that sharing information and placing liaison officers in each other’s military organisations will encourage joint service collaboration between our troops to enable integrated and multi-domain cooperation.
They addressed how to promote and deepen maritime cooperation, notably in underwater domain awareness, after acknowledging that their navies have been a driving force in furthering the US and India’s common interests in the Indian Ocean Region and the wider Indo-Pacific.
India’s decision to join the Combined Maritime Forces Task Force as an Associate Partner to deepen multilateral cooperation in the Indian Ocean was also welcomed by the US. The ministers praised the Indo-Pacific Military Health Exchange in 2022, which India and the US co-hosted to bring together specialists from 38 countries to discuss military medical challenges and solutions.
In 2023, the Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference (IPACC) and Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS) will be co-hosted by India.
The ministers welcomed regular bilateral logistics operations such as replenishments at sea, air-to-air, and ground-refueling and committed to increasing such cooperation, including through the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement, in support of the Indian military’s expanding operational reach and emerging opportunities for cooperation in the Indian Ocean and wider region.
Regular bilateral and multilateral exercises, such as the Malabar exercise, the tri-service Tiger Triumph exercise, the multilateral Milan naval exercise, the bilateral Yudh Abhyas and Vajra Prahar Army exercises, the bilateral COPE India air exercise, and Indian participation in Red Flag, were reaffirmed by both sides.
They were in favour of broadening the scope and complexity of the exercises. They were looking forward to the Special Forces of both countries working together more closely.
The ministers praised ongoing projects under the aegis of the India-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), including a project agreement to co-develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
They urged both parties to investigate further DTTI initiatives, such as a counter-unmanned aerial systems (UAS) system and an Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) platform. They also praised the ten-fold increase in bilateral defence trade over the previous decade.
The ministers praised the progress made toward the implementation of the Industrial Security Agreement, which will allow industries to collaborate on cutting-edge defence technologies.
According to the statement, both sides would investigate and promote ways to boost reciprocal participation of US and Indian vendors in each other’s defence supply chains.
Both sides agreed to study the possibility of using Indian shipyards for repair and maintenance of ships belonging to the US Maritime Sealift Command (MSC) to enable mid-voyage repairs of US Naval ships to further improve defence industrial cooperation in the naval domain.
They praised the India-US Cyber Dialogue and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Working Group for their recent and planned meetings aimed at deepening cybersecurity collaboration.
They strongly condemned ransomware and other cyber-related crimes and agreed that essential networks and infrastructure must be better protected.
They announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Space Situational Awareness and pledged to expand bilateral space cooperation, recalling their countries’ long history of space exploration and endeavours. They also acknowledged the critical role international cooperation plays in the long-term sustainability and safety of the outer-space environment.
They praised the continued construction of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite, which is scheduled to launch in 2023 from India. The NISAR mission will gather data that will be critical in addressing the climate catastrophe. The ministers also expressed excitement for the 2022 meeting of the India-US Civil Space Joint Working Group.