Carter's nomination as Pentagon chief to boost Indo-US ties

Carter's nomination as Pentagon chief to boost Indo-US ties

The Indo-US defence relationship may now get personal attention with strong India-backer Ashton Carter today being nominated by President Barack Obama for the key post of the Defense Secretary.

A close confidant of Obama, Carter, 60, has served in his administration, in particular at the Pentagon in various capacities –- the last being that of the Deputy Secretary of Defence, from October 2011 to December 2013.

"With a record of service that has spanned more than 30 years -- as a public servant, as an advisor, as a scholar -- Ash (Carter) is rightly regarded as one of our nation’s foremost national security leaders," Obama said.

"As a top member of our Pentagon team for the first five years of my presidency, including his two years as deputy secretary, he was at the table in the Situation Room; he was by my side navigating complex security challenges that we were confronting. I relied on his expertise, and I relied on his judgment," said the US President.

Carter, Obama said, brings a unique blend of strategic perspective and technical know-how.

Carter said he accepted the President's offer "because of the seriousness of the strategic challenges we face, but also the bright opportunities that exist for America if we can come together to grab hold of them. And I accepted the offer because of the deep respect and abiding love that Stephanie and I have for our men and women in uniform."

If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Chuck Hagel.In his capacity as Deputy Secretary of Defence, Carter was also the Pentagon's point person on India when he launched the path breaking Defense Trade and Technology Initiative.

Also called the Carter-Menon initiative, Carter during his travel to India in September 2013 had submitted a list of more than a dozen hi-tech defence items for co-production and co-development with India.

India and the US are "destined to be partners" at the world stage and the Indo-US defence ties should move from an existing "buyer-seller" relationship to that of "co-production" and "co-development", Carter said last year.

"My view is that the United States and India are destined to be partners on the world stage. And that's because we share so many common interests, but I think fundamentally it's because we share so many common values," Carter had said ahead of his all-important trip to India in 2013.

Given that in his speeches, testimonies before key Congressional committees and op-eds in well know journals, he has tirelessly advocated for strengthening of defence and strategic relationship with India, it is for the first time in independent India that Indo-US defence relationship would attract personal interest from a US Defence Secretary.

Carter had also backed the Indo-US nuclear deal in 2005. "India –- a key part of our rebalance, and, more broadly, an emerging power that we believe will help determine the broader security and prosperity of the 21st century," Carter had said last year.

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