US to upgrade maritime security partnership with India

US to upgrade maritime security partnership with India

US to upgrade maritime security partnership with India

With strategic convergence of India's Act East policy and America's re-balance to the Asia Pacific region, the US has developed a three-pronged approach for maritime cooperation with the country that includes upgrading the bilateral partnership in this sphere.

"Given our broad shared interests in maritime security, the Department (of Defence) has developed a three-pronged approach to maritime cooperation with India," the Pentagon said in a report sent to the US Congress yesterday.

This approach includes maintaining a shared vision on maritime security issues, upgrading bilateral maritime security partnership and collaborating to both build regional partner capacity and improve regional maritime domain awareness.

First, the US and India's shared vision for maritime security in the region is reflected in the January 2015 Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region.

In the vision document, the two countries affirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea.

This Joint Strategic Vision and the September 2014 US-India Joint Statement also called on all parties to abide by international law, including the Law of the Sea Convention, to resolve maritime disputes and to avoid the use, or threat of use of force.

Further the Department of Defence and the Indian Ministry of Defense are upgrading their bilateral maritime security partnership, through growing bilateral exchanges between military personnel and by engaging in military exercises, the report said.

Recent visits to India by then Commander of the US Pacific Fleet Admiral Harry Harris and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus have highlighted the importance of naval engagement to the overall defence relationship.

To bolster operational maritime cooperation, India has participated in the RIMPAC multilateral exercise and the two sides conduct the annual flagship naval exercise MALABAR, it said.

According to the report, the Pentagon is actively working to support the Indian Navy through the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).

The two sides agreed to enhance maritime technology cooperation, in part, by forming a working group to explore aircraft carrier technology sharing and design, it said.

Finally, both the United States and India are active in building regional partner capacity and maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the region, the report said.

Both countries are contributing to these goals individually with other partners and are mutually contributing to counter-piracy efforts in the Indian Ocean, the report said, adding that the Department of Defence will continue to seek opportunities to consult with Indian counterparts about these efforts where possible.

"By doing so, the two countries will bolster the shared vision laid out by their respective governments and contribute to overall peace and security in the region," the report said.

In its report, the Pentagon told the Congress that Department of Defense sees a strategic convergence between India's "Act East" policy and the US' re-balance to the Asia-Pacific region.

"And we are seeking to reinforce India's maritime capabilities as a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean region and beyond," it said.

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