Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat in Washington, on 1 October 2021 | ANI photo
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat in Washington, on 1 October 2021 | ANI photo
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Washington: Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat met his US counterpart General Mark Milley here on Thursday and they discussed a range of issues, including ways to ensure regional security and their respective roles as principal military advisors to the civilian leadership, the Pentagon said.

The visit of Rawat is taking place a week after the maiden in-person meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden at the White House during which both leaders reaffirmed the need for greater military-to-military cooperation between India and the US.

The two leaders agreed to continued cooperation in training exercises and creating more opportunities to increase interoperability between the two militaries, Joint Staff Spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said in a readout on the meeting between Milley and Rawat.

During a meeting at the Pentagon, Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Rawat discussed a range of issues, including ways to ensure regional security and their respective roles as principal military advisors to the civilian leadership, Butler said.

Earlier, General Milley and Mrs Milley welcomed General Rawat during an Armed Forces full honour arrival ceremony on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

There, General Milley thanked General Rawat for his meritorious service and leadership, which has contributed greatly to the strength of the US and India partnership.

Also, General Rawat laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as part of his official visit.

The US and India share a strong military-to-military relationship under the US-India Major Defence Partnership, which supports a free and open Indo-Pacific, Butler said.

On September 24, President Biden hosted the first-ever in-person summit of Quad leaders that vowed to strive for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, anchored by democratic values and unconstrained by coercion, sending an apparent message to China.

At the invitation of President Biden, Prime Minister Modi and his counterparts Scott Morrison from Australia and Yoshihide Suga from Japan attended the Quad summit.

India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.

China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea.

According to a White House fact sheet, having concluded four major defence enabling agreements since 2016, the US and India have made significant progress as Major Defence Partners and America looks forward to further increasing information sharing, bilateral and multilateral exercises, maritime security cooperation, liaison officer exchanges, and logistical cooperation.

In furtherance of the US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), the United States and India agreed in July to a USD 22 million project to co-develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles. DTTI currently encompasses four working groups, and the next senior officials’ meeting later this year would further expand defence industrial collaboration, it said.

The United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Indian military, having offered state-of-the-art capabilities, such as the F/A-18, F-15EX, and F-21 fighter aircraft; MQ-9B unmanned aerial systems; the IADWS missile system; and additional P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, it said.

During the meeting between Modi and Biden on September 24, the US President reaffirmed the strength of the defence relationship between the two countries.

Biden also voiced America’s unwavering commitment to India as a Major Defense Partner through close defence engagements in information sharing, sharing of logistics and military-to-military interactions, strengthening cooperation in advanced military technologies, and expanding engagements in a multilateral framework including with regional partners.

The two leaders welcomed the deepening of advanced industrial cooperation. In this context, they noted the recent project to co-develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, and encouraged more such joint efforts, according to the US-India Joint Leaders’ Statement issued after the Modi-Biden meeting.

They also called upon the government and private stakeholders to use the existing ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship in defence industries for co-development, co-production and expanding mutual defence trade, the statement said. –PTI

Also read: Gen Rawat’s ‘clash of civilisation’ row shows military should be seen but not heard in press


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