Vastavam web: The US is ready to help India modernise its military and jointly they can improve India’s military capabilities in “significant and meaningful” ways, a top American commander has said.Over the past decade, the defence trade between the US and India has touched nearly USD 15 billion and is expected to gallop in the next few years, as India is looking at the US for some of the latest military hardware including fighter jets, latest unmanned aerial vehicles and aircraft carriers.”I believe that the US is ready to help India modernise its military. India has been designated a major defence partner of the US. This is a strategic declaration that’s unique to India and the US. It places India on the same level that we have many of our treaty allies,” Commander of the US Pacific Command or PACOM Admiral Harry Harris told.
“We have been partners with India in the Malabar exercise series, the maritime exercise, for a number of years. I participated in one of the very first… one of the early Malabars, in 1995,” he recollected, reflecting on the decades- old association with India.Noting that the exercise, and the complexity of it, has improved steadily over the years, he said he is very pleased that Japan is part of Malabar.”I think the trilateral relationship between India and Japan and the US, that relationship is very important,” he said, while advocating that Australia too should join this group.
“I’m pleased that India is a participant in Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the Pacific exercise that’s hosted every other year in Hawaii. I’m pleased in general with where the relationship is going, and I look forward to more as the years progress,” he said.Responding to a question on India’s decision against the American move to have a joint India-US naval patrol in the Indian Ocean, Harris said the US is not disappointed at all.”I’m not disappointed. This is on the patrols I’m not disappointed at all, I’m encouraged that we were able to have a discussion about it, and I hope that that discussion remains open,” he said.
“I don’t want to answer the question, because I don’t want to imply that I’m sharing intelligence, or anything like that. I’ll just simply say that a close relationship between US and India is clearly helpful to the United States, and I believe helpful to India as well,” Harris said in response.Harris reiterated that he believes that the deepening US-India relationship is the defining strategic partnership for the 21st century.”I’m very interested, and very supportive, of what’s happening in India. The Indian armed forces, and that whole piece…I think that the opportunities for our two countries are simply great. It’s fantastic,” Harris said.