Want to cut red-tape in defence ties with India: US (Lead)July 23rd, 2012 - 9:57 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) With the US rebalancing its strategic focus to Asia-Pacific, a key Obama administration official Monday said his nation’s ties with India will play a key part in its future strategy and, accordingly, it wants to “knock down” any bureaucratic barriers in defence relations and “strip away” impediments.
“We want to knock down any remaining bureaucratic barriers in our defense relationship, and strip away the impediments. And we want to set big goals to achieve,” US Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter told a CII-hosted event here.
“Our partnership with India is a key part of our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, and, we believe, to the broader security and prosperity of the 21st century,” he said at the interactive session on “US-India Defence Cooperation: The Way Forward”.
“Our rebalance is not about China or the United States or India or any other single country or group of countries: It is about a peaceful Asia-Pacific region, where sovereign states can enjoy the benefits of security and continue to prosper,” he added.
Carter, who was only recently appointed by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as the pointperson for US-India defence trade, said India is “an economic power with an increasing military capability” and that its leadership in civil discourse and democracy is critical to the political stability of South Asia.
India was the US’s second largest foreign military sales (FMS) customer in 2011 with $4.5 billion in total FMS sales. Their defence trade in the last decade has touched about $10 billion, both FMS and direct commercial sales (DCS) route, with industry trends indicating a $25 billion bilateral military trade in the near future.
India has in the last decade bought the USS Trenton, a landing pontoon dock second hand, apart from buying 10 C-17 heavy lift transport planes, six C-130J special forces cargo planes, eight P-8I maritime patrol and anti-submarine planes, as also readying to place orders for 145 M777 ultra light howitzers from the BAE Systems stable produced in the US.
Noting that India-US military-to-military engagement has increased steadily over the years, to include a robust set of dialogues, exercises, defence trade, and research cooperation, the US official said the shared challenge in the next era would be to find concrete areas to step up defence cooperation, “so that only imagination and strategic logic, and not administrative barriers, set the pace”.
To a query on India not appoint its counterpart to him, Carter said he was not concerned about the mechanism, but only about results.
He said India deserved the best military equipment available.
“And we are prepared to help. Practically, we want to be India’s highest-quality and most trusted long-term supplier of technology, in such fields as maritime domain awareness, counter-terrorism, and many others,” he said.
“We are committed to India’s military modernisation. India is a top priority in our export considerations. We trust India and know India is not a re-exporter or exploiter of our technologies,” he added.
Referring to the US’ export control system to prevent high-end technology from getting to states that shouldn’t have it, Carter admitted that the system could be “confusing, rigid, and controls too many items for the wrong reasons”.
“We know we need to improve it. We are improving our government’s overall export control system,” he said, noting that India has been very frank in expressing its concerns with US export controls and technology security policies.
“We are taking real steps to address India’s concerns,” he said, pointing out that US had moved Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) off the American commerce department’s Entity List.
Carter also noted that US was now fast tracking priority defence sales by anticipating what its allies may want, apart from improving its foreign military sales and direct commercial sales system of military supplies.
The US official, during the day, also met Defence Minister A.K. Antony, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai.
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Tags: ashton b carter, asia pacific region, bureaucratic barriers, cargo planes, civil discourse, defence cooperation, defence relations, defence ties, foreign military sales, future strategy, heavy lift, interactive session, last decade, leon panetta, maritime patrol, military capability, military trade, rebalance, transport planes, uss trenton