A joint statement also referred to terrorist attacks on Pathankot and Uri, and asked Pakistan to crackdown on terrorism in its territory.
New Delhi: India and the US will hold massive tri-service military wargames involving their armies, navies, airforces and marines as a consequence of agreements reached at Thursday’s historic inaugural 2+2 meeting.
India does not hold similar military exercises with any other country.
The 2+2 dialogue was held between the Indian foreign and defence ministers Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman and US foreign and defence secretaries Mike Pompeo and James Mattis.
“Our joint exercises have acquired greater complexity and newer dimensions, both bilaterally and in wider formats. To enhance our synergies in this area, we have decided to carry out, for the first time, a tri-Services joint exercise with the United States off the eastern coast of India in 2019,” said Sitharaman.
The two countries also referred to terrorist attacks on Indian military bases — Pathankot and Uri, for example — and asked Pakistan to crackdown on terrorism in its territory.
“The Ministers denounced any use of terrorist proxies in the region, and in this context, they called on Pakistan to ensure that the territory under its control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries,” said the statement.
“On the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attack, they called on Pakistan to bring to justice expeditiously the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot, Uri, and other cross-border terrorist attacks,” it said.
Growing military ties
The decision for the tri-service wargames was reached along with the signing of the Communications Compatibility and Secrecy Agreement (COMCASA) this morning.
“Recognizing their rapidly growing military-to-military ties, the two sides committed to the creation of a new, tri-services exercise and to further increase personnel exchanges between the two militaries and defense organizations,” a joint statement from India and the US said.
India and the US also agreed to cross-post military officers between the US naval central command (NAVCENT) and, possibly, the Indian naval western command. This was expected.
In the US military scheme of the world, India is in the US’ Pacific Command area of responsibility. But Pakistan and Afghanistan are in the US Central Command area of responsibility.
But it is the planned tri-service exercise that could take the military-to-military relationship to a different plane. Currently, the Indian and US navies, airforces and armies exercise separately. The largest of the exercises is the naval Malabar that has successively involved aircraft carriers and submarines of both countries.
“The Ministers reviewed the recent growth of bilateral engagements in support of maritime security and maritime domain awareness, and committed to expand cooperation. Toward that end, the Ministers committed to start exchanges between the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and the Indian Navy, underscoring the importance of deepening their maritime cooperation in the western Indian Ocean,” said the joint statement.
The statement effectively says that New Delhi has cleared impediments to the transfer of military high-technology to India. For the US, this increases the possibility of military sales. For example, two US fighter aircraft, the F-16 Super Viper (Fighting Falcon) made by Lockheed Martin and the F/A-18 Super Hornet made by Boeing are contending with four others for an Indian Air Force order for 114 fighter jets.
“Acknowledging the unique role of technology in the India-U.S. defense partnership, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to continue to encourage and prioritize co-production and co-development projects through the Defense Technology and Trade Initiatiative,” the statement noted.
The two sides also decided to increase intelligence-sharing for “bilateral counter-terrorism”.