By Arun Kumar
Washington: Suggesting that the US relationship with India has the potential to alter the power dynamics in Asia and the world, a leading US think tank has proposed a deeper military engagement between two countries.
This “can have a range of strategic benefits, including the enhancement of military capabilities, building long-term professional relationships, as well as strategic signalling to allies, partners, and potential adversaries,” says a new report by the Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
In the case of US-India military ties, the relationship has witnessed elements of all three benefits in a short period of time, says the report entitled “US-India Military Engagement: Steady as They Go”, noting India now conducts more exercises with the United States than with any other country in the world.
Authored by S. Amer Latif, a visiting fellow with the Wadhwani Chair, the report examines the current state of bilateral military relations and puts forward a series of recommendations to strengthen these ties.
However, there are limits to how far military engagement can go over the next 5 to 10 years given a number of challenges that exist, the report says noting “both sides have yet to develop a common strategic end state that defines their relationship.”
“Part of the problem lies in India’s reluctance to become too closely entwined with the United States due to its foreign policy orientation of ‘strategic autonomy,’ which eschews excessively close relations with any single power,” it says.
At a practical level, this approach hinders the development of interoperability between the military services since the concept carries a connotation of an alliance-like relationship within India, the report says.
Despite the range of obstacles to deeper cooperation, there are several practical steps both sides can take to continue building on their recent record of strengthening military cooperation, it says.
As India’s power and confidence grow in the coming years, bilateral expectations and engagement can adjust accordingly, the report suggests.
“However, much more could be accomplished if both sides apply themselves and remove the current obstacles to military cooperation.”
“With the twenty-first century poised to be an Asian one, the United States and India now have an opportunity to develop a relationship that will not only create a stable and secure environment for each other, but the larger Indo-Pacific region as well,” the report comcludes.