NATIONAL

“India, U.S. should prepare for joint military operations”

Special Correspondent

Former U.S. Admiral sees role for the two in maritime security

New Delhi: A former Pacific commander of the United States said on Saturday that the Indian armed forces needed to move beyond “generic” joint activities with their U.S. counterparts and towards focused interaction based on “military operations they are likely to conduct together.”

Speaking at the IISS-CITI India Global Forum organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies here on Saturday, Admiral (retd.) Dennis C. Blair noted that the U.S. provision of security in the post-war period had helped Asia maintain peace and security all these years. But as their economies and defence capabilities grow, he added, Asian powers like India, Japan and even China need to work with the U.S. so that their rising military strength can be used towards the common provision of security in the region.

Admiral Blair identified four areas where he said India and the U.S. could think of joint military operations.

The first is in the area of maritime security, where the U.S. already has its “1000 ship navy” concept to “make the seas safe for lawful use.”

The second area is in peacekeeping operations. Both India and the U.S. have had successes and failures in this area, he said, and there was a need for the armed forces of the two countries to conduct not just joint exercises but also “do serious work” and evolve new concepts.

He identified the Horn of Africa and Somalia as one area where India and the U.S. could work together and said the Indian military could liaise with the U.S. Army’s newly established Africa Command.

Counter-insurgency

The third area he identified was counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism training and operations. India had experience in Jammu and Kashmir and the U.S. in Afghanistan. Even if more work was needed for the two countries to get to the stage of joint operations, there should at least be joint training, he said.

Citing the example of Indo-U.S. naval cooperation in the aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami, Admiral Blair said humanitarian and disaster relief operations were the fourth set of activities the two militaries could work on.

While the military-to-military relationship had grown tremendously in the past seven or eight years, Admiral Blair said India needed to sign a number of “routine agreements” with the U.S. to enable cooperation to move on to a higher plane.

Of these, the most important were the Logistics Supply Agreement (LSA), the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and an end-use monitoring agreement.

Seeking to make light of India’s reluctance to sign on the dotted line, Admiral Blair said if some Indian company had to sign these, “some low-level third-ranking official would have done it years ago.”

Maintaining stability

Admitting that a deeper U.S.-India military relationship would have “other ramifications,” especially in relationship to China, Admiral Blair called on India to work with the United States towards the creation of a “durable and strong security architecture for Asia” as a means of maintaining stability in the wider region.

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