In a massive push to Indo-US defence ties, the US House of Representatives has passed a $621.5 billion defence policy bill that proposes to advance defence cooperation with India.

An amendment in this regard was moved by Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera. It was adopted by a voice vote by the House as part of the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018, beginning October 1 this year.

The passing of this amendment required the Secretary of Defence, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the US and India.

Ami Bera was delighted at the turn of events. He said, “The United States is the world’s oldest democracy and India is the world’s largest democracy. It is vitally important to develop a strategy that advances defence cooperation between our two nations.

I am grateful for this amendment passed and look forward to the Defence Department’s strategy that addresses critical issues like common security challenges, the role of partners and allies, and areas for collaboration in science and technology.”

Following the passage of the National Defence Authorisation Act, the Secretary of Defence and Secretary of State have 180 days to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the two countries.

The NDAA-2018 asks the State Department and the Pentagon to develop a strategy to decide the role of American partners and allies in India-US defence relationship.

NDAA-2017 had stated India as a major defence partner that brought India at par with the closest of American partners in terms of defence trade and technology transfer.

This would be closely looked at by China. In the recent past, China has been unnaturally hostile and even perturbed at India’s rising might both economically and militarily. One of the aspects that’s troubling them is India’s growing military cooperation with the US.

The recent joint naval exercise between India, America and Japan had China so rattled that it issued a statement saying that it hoped the exercise wasn’t targeted against any one nation.

America is still the leader in defence technology and the most powerful military in the world. Deeper ties with America will enable India to buy latest arms and even avail technology that only a few of America’s closest allies possess. One example is the purchase of Guardian drones from America that will ensure that India has a closer eye on the activities in the Indian Ocean.

Before Narendra Modi came to power, the government didn’t do anything to modernize the forces. Now the rapidity with which its being done has surprised the likes of Pakistan and China. Moving forward, one can expect both the nations to be more aggressive in their statements in condemning India’s rising military might.

Source – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/us-house-passes-bill-on-defence-co-operation-with-india/articleshow/59604143.cms


Vinayak Jain

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