Washington: Taking the US military-to-military relationship with India to the next level is a big focus of US Pacific Command (PACOM) as it builds stronger alliances and partnerships across the region, according to its new commander.
Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, who took command of PACOM in March, says he is following the new defence strategic guidance announced in January resetting US priorities toward the region.
It specifically calls for investments in a long-term strategic partnership with India “to support its ability to service as a regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region”.
“We hope to partner with (India) to share the strategic landscape as it applies to how we apply security to the globe that allows prosperity and peace, freedom of movement and prosperity in the world,” Locklear said in Camp Smith, Hawaii, according to the defence department.
India’s strategic location and its ascent across economic, military, diplomatic and informational fronts makes it an influential leader in the region, according to Colonel Michael Albaneze, director of Locklear’s India strategic focus group.
It’s a partnership that’s been slow in forming, he conceded as for the past half-century, India has been a leader in the non-aligned movement with an official policy of being “strategically autonomous”.
That said, Albaneze said he recognized signs of India’s willingness to engage increasingly with the US as it rises on the world stage.
Without a long history of cooperation, Albaneze noted a “maturing process” that could, over time, evolve into a more typical relationship characterised by routine engagement across the board.
“We are not quite there yet, but there is a lot of effort in trying to move in that direction,” he was quoted as saying.