US looks at long term military ties with India: Kenneth Juster

12 Jan 2018


The United States wants to scale up defence ties with India from a strategic one to a permanent one and has proposed posting military liaison officers at each other's combatant commands. US Ambassador Kenneth Juster put forward the suggestions in his first policy address on India-US relations in New Delhi on Thursday.

Kenneth Juster  

Outlining US President Donald Trump's agenda for India, Jester said the US is also working "very closely" with international partners to secure India's Nuclear Suppliers Group membership, even as he hoped that New Delhi would join the Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons in the "very near future".

China has been opposing India's entry into the 48-member elite nuclear club, which controls nuclear trade, despite support from all other members.

Jester said the US is looking at lifting ties with India ''from the strategic to the durable''. He did not put a timeframe on the posting of military liaison officers.

''Over time, we should expand officer exchanges at our war colleges and our training facilities, and even at some point post reciprocal military liaison officers at our respective combatant commands,'' he said.

Juster also proposed a comprehensive military exercise, involving armies, navies, marines and air forces of the two countries. India-US annual military exercises are currently restricted to single services and there has not been any combined exercise involving all three services.

India carries out multi-service exercise with Russia, although the maximum number of military exercises are with the US.

The US ambassador's suggestions are in line with the US National Security Strategy put out by Washington in December that described India as a major world power. Juster said the US sees India as a major power in ''the Indo-Pacific and beyond''.

''A related and equally important objective is to continue our support to India as a net provider of regional security, capable of responding successfully to threats to peace, especially in the Indian Ocean and its vicinity. We can advance these objectives in several ways, which we expect to discuss this spring in our new 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue and incorporate in a roadmap to drive action on both sides,'' said Juster.

The 2 + 2 dialogue refers to the joint talks between the ministers of defence and foreign affairs of both countries.

The US expects that issues between the militaries - such as the signing of a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement -would be resolved. He also expected major defence deals by 2019.

Finally, Juster wanted India to provide alternative investment avenues to US companies that are nervous to investing in China.

Jester said "America First" and "Make in India" are not incompatible, adding that investing in each other's markets will be mutually beneficial - it will increase our economic interactions and volume of trade, lead to collaboration on emerging technologies, and create jobs in both countries."

"A number of US companies have reported increasing difficulties conducting business in the largest market in the region - China," Juster added, "India can seize the strategic opportunity - through trade and investment - to become an alternative hub for US business in the Indo-Pacific region."

The US envoy to India further emphasised on the "many" benefits of growing the bilateral economic relationship and making India a regional hub for US business.

"America is a leader in entrepreneurship and innovation, and already has extensive linkages with India in the technology sector."

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