Pentagon Denies Plans for US Military Bases in Indian Andaman Islands

An Indian paratrooper exits a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during the Yudh Abhyas bilateral training exercise on Fort Bragg, NC, May 15, 2013

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Washington, DC – The US Department of Defense categorically denied reports appearing in Southeast Asia media outlets quoting a recent RAND report that the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands would be used as a base for American drones in the event of an offensive against China.

Indian media recently referenced the RAND assessment, titled “Overseas Basing of US Military Forces,” which was commissioned by the Pentagon on the instructions of the US Congress and looks into the presence of the American military at various bases and locations across the globe, suggesting significant changes in the Indo-Pacific region.

The media reports quoted the paper as saying, “The Navy would strive to station a detachment of broad area maritime surveillance UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles or drones) at Port Blair airport in the Andaman Islands, to increase surveillance over the Strait of Malacca.”

Denying that such plans are in the pipeline, Cathy Wilkinson, Defense Press Officer for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs at Pentagon headquarters told India America Today, “The RAND independent assessment does not represent the official position of the Department. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (section 347) required the Department of Defense to commission an independent assessment of the overseas basing of US forces.”

“The RAND independent assessment suggests some potential overseas basing locations; however, these are just suggestions and the Defense Department is not bound by them. The United States does not have any plans to establish permanent US military bases in Port Blair or the Andaman islands as suggested in the RAND study,” Wilkinson said.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution whose mission is to improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis.

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