Security ties with India a ‘strategic imperative’: US

New Delhi: The United States strongly supports India’s establishment of an Information Fusion Centre focusing on maritime domain awareness, which will improve maritime security in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean Region, the US Indo-Pacific Command said ahead of the first-ever summit of Quad leaders on Friday.
The head of the USINDOPACOM said the US sees its security relationship with India as a “strategic imperative” and expects substantial progress as the relationship continues to mature.
Adm. Philip Davidson said at a Senate committee on Tuesday that the current state of the US–India relations “presents a historic opportunity to deepen ties and solidify what I consider the defining partnership of the 21st century.”
“USINDOPACOM defines the security relationship with India as a strategic imperative. We expect substantial progress on interoperability and information sharing, service-level and joint military-to-military cooperation and exercises like TIGER TRIUMPHand MALABAR, and an increase in quadrilateral collaboration between India, Australia, Japan, and the United States as the relationship continues to mature,” he said.
“We concluded several agreements, including the Communications Compatibility andSecurity Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018, which has greatly enhanced information sharing and interoperability; the Industrial Security Annex (ISA), signed in December 2019 that allows for the transfer of technologies in support of defense production; the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) to share unclassified geospatial information; and the agreement on Navy-to-Navy Information Sharing in October 2020.
“The US and Indian navies are now securely sharing information, and India has substantially increased its acquisition of US defense equipment. Defence sales are at an all-time high with India operating US-sourced platforms such as P-8s, C-130Js, C-17s, AH-64s, CH-47s, Precision Guided-Excalibur Munitions, and M777 howitzers. In February, India agreed to acquire Apache and MH-60R multi-mission helicopters worth $3.1 billion and is considering other US systems.”
Regarding South Asia, Adm. Davidson said in conjunction with India’s contributions to regional security and the free and open international-based order, US actions are aimed to prevent adversaries from establishing an adequate military presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Bay of Bengal.
“USINDOPACOM will continue to help these nations develop economically, resist threats to their sovereign interests, provide sufficient security to their land borders and maritime boundaries, and contribute to global peace and stability” Davidson said.
He said the US is facing a growing risk of China seeking to unilaterally change the status quo in the region amid its military buildup.
“The military balance in the Indo-Pacific is becoming more unfavourable for the United States and our allies,” Adm. Philip Davidson said, adding, “With this imbalance, we are accumulating risk that may embolden China to unilaterally change the status quo before our forces may be able to deliver an effective response.”
China said last week that it will increase its military spending in 2021 by 6.8 percent from the previous year, while a projection unveiled at the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee showed that Beijing is expected to have three aircraft carriers in the region by 2025.
Davidson said China has quadrupled its nuclear capability over the past two decades and that it is expected to at least double that capability over the next decade.
He also acknowledged that the Asian country could overmatch the US by the end of this decade, if Beijing further quadruples its nuclear stockpile.
His remarks come as concerns are growing over China’s assertiveness in the East and South China seas, where Beijing has been stepping up territorial claims.
Davidson warned that the greatest danger the US and its allies face in the region is the “erosion of conventional deterrence” vis-a-vis China.
“Absent a convincing deterrent, China will be emboldened to continue to take action to supplant the established rules-based international order and the values represented in our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added.
On Friday, leaders of India, US, Japan and Australia will for the first time hold talks as all four countries see heightened tensions with China over a variety of issues.
“The Leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office said.
The White House said Covid-19, economic cooperation, and the climate crisis will also be topics of discussion.