The US House of Representatives has passed a USD 621.5 billion defence policy bill that proposes to advance defence cooperation with India. An amendment in this respect, moved by Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, was adopted by a voice vote from the House within the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018, starting October 1 this year. The House 344-81 passed nDAA-2018.
The India-related amendment passed by the House requires the Secretary of Defence, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the United States and India. “The United States is the world’s oldest democracy and India is the world’s largest democracy.
It’s vitally important to develop a strategy that advances defence alliance between both countries,” Mr Bera said. “I am grateful this amendment passed and look forward to the Defence Department’s plan that addresses critical issues like common security challenges, the role of partners and allies, and areas for cooperation in science and engineering,” he said.
“Cooperation between the US and India enriches our own defence and our ability to fulfill the evolving security challenges of the 21st century,” Mr Bera said. Following the passing of the National Defence Authorisation Act, the Secretary of Defence and Secretary of State have 180 days to develop a strategy for advancing cooperation between India and America.
NDAA needs to be passed by the Senate before it could be sent to sign into law. As passed by the House, NDAA-2018 asks the Pentagon and the State Department to develop a plan that addresses common security challenges, the role of American partners and allies in relationship, and role of the technology and trade initiative.
It asks them to address how to advance the exchange and collaboration agreement and safety memorandum of agreement and the communications interoperability for geospatial cooperation. The previous NDAA-2017 had designated India as a major defence partner which brings India at par with nearest partners concerning technology transfer and defence trade.
A senior defence official yesterday said that US and India defence relationship is on track.”… [As] we consider the international order, and when we look at the evolving security environment within Asia, India’s rise and role [is evolving, [and] we see america and India increasingly seeing the region in precisely the same way, and our interests are very much aligned,” said Cara Abercrombie, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia.
Addressing a New York audience, she said the connection produces a high level of dialogue from the Pentagon on a range of issues.”This is rooted in when we look at the area and [what] we discuss. We have the same [aerial] security interests, the same counter-proliferation, counter-piracy, and counterterrorism [interests],” she added.
“We have the same interests in upholding this international system that upholds the rule of law which favours freedom of navigation, open sea lanes of communication, and freedom of over flight. Those are values that are critically important to the United States and India to our economic prosperity as well as our accessibility in the area,” Abercrombie said during a panel discussion in the 2017 Global Business Forum in new york.
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