Within a day of the U.S. Congress voting to slash American military aid to Pakistan by $650 million the Senate India Caucus pressed a top defence official in the Obama administration to seek closer defence ties with India, arguing that recent arms deals “have benefitted the U.S. and India alike, increasing commonality of military equipment platforms, providing expanded opportunities to conduct joint military exercises, and contributing to security in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Ahead of a trip to India by Deputy Defence Secretary Ashton Carter the co-Chairs of the India Caucus, Senators John Cornyn and Mark Warner, encouraged the Pentagon to “actively engage with your Indian counterparts to develop ways to improve the compatibility of the defence acquisition systems of the U.S. and India.”
The Senators highlighted two aspects of defence cooperation in particular, in their push for deeper ties between the two nations.
First, they cited a June 2012 report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, which focused on convergence between the military procurement and sales procedures and protocols between New Delhi and Washington.
The heads of the Caucus noted that while India has been striving to improve its Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) since its initial release in 2002, “moving toward a transparent procurement system... can instil confidence in U.S. companies that seek to enter the Indian market.” They emphasised the section of the CSIS report that “rightly recommends that India be encouraged to continue these reforms, specifically to ensure that its DPP encompasses a strategic acquisition plan and request for proposal process, and that its acquisition system provides the requisite predictability and flexibility.”
On the U.S. side the Senators touted the “many advantages” that the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system held for India, including the support that the FMS enjoyed within the U.S. federal government.
A second key point emphasised by Senators Cornyn and Warner was that it may be the right time for India and the U.S. to embark on a cooperative venture in co-production and –development of military weapons systems. In this context they cited the Pentagon’s November 2011 report to Congress on U.S.-India Security Cooperation, and argued that that report “indicated strong receptivity to this idea.”
They highlighted a section of that report which said that the U.S. was “seeking opportunities for increased science and technology cooperation that may lead to co-development opportunities with India as a partner [and]... As our relationship continues to mature, we expect co-development of armaments to become a reality.”
In this context the Senate India Caucus chiefs urged Mr. Carter to “aggressively pursue co-development or co-production opportunities, which would prove mutually beneficial not just to the U.S. and Indian defense industries, but also to the long-term relationship of our two militaries.”