US, India Sign 10-Year Defense Framework Agreement

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Washington, DC – In India, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar signed a 10-year defense framework agreement recently, highlighting the growth of defense cooperation between the two countries.

Carter was on a 10-day trip focused on the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

The agreement signed in India is an outgrowth of a meeting that was held between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January.

Working Together

Out of that meeting grew the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative. The idea is for India and the United States to work closely together to develop military capabilities both can use.

The agreement included plans to cooperate in developing a mobile solar energy power source that could be used in remote areas and in developing a lightweight protective suit effective in chemical and biological hazard environments.

In India, Carter also met with Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. Carter also became the first US defense secretary to visit an Indian operational military command — the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam.

“This is just one more of many signs of what a positive trajectory we continue to be on with the defense community here in India,” Carter said during a media availability in New Delhi.

The secretary’s visit capitalizes on the convergence of India’s Act East policy and the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. Under the Act East policy, India will focus on improving relations with Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other East Asian countries. And the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region recognizes the increasing importance of Asian nations to the global economy.

“These two things come together when it comes to maritime security, maritime domain awareness,” Carter said.

He also spoke of the convergence between Prime Minister Modi’s “Make In India” policy and the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative.

Cooperative Technology, Industrial Relationships

“The heart of that is to create cooperative technology and industrial relationships that are not just the buyer-seller kind,” the secretary said. “Both we and the Indians want to move beyond that, and there’s no reason why that can’t occur in the sense that industry wants to do it. We’re very willing to be flexible, creative. We are being that with a number of pathfinder projects.”

The agreement requires both countries to cut through the “historical burden of bureaucracy,” he said.

“It’s the burden that we carry forward from the fact that we were two separated industrial systems for so long during the Cold War,” Carter said. “It just takes time to get the two of them together.”

‘Everybody Wins, Everybody Rises’

The secretary reemphasized his message delivered at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore earlier in the week — the “everybody wins and everybody rises” approach to the Asian security architecture.

“That’s what the United States believes in and is championing — a vibrant Vietnam, it’s eager to do more, and we’re doing more with them,” the secretary said, “and India, an India that’s not only rising economically and militarily but is also a regional security provider now and in the future.”

The secretary expects the cooperation under the 10-year framework to increase. The nations are talking about cooperating on jet engines and aircraft carrier technology, he said.

“Some of the projects that we’re launching just now are, in part, intended to blaze a trail for things to come,” he said. “And the other thing to keep in mind is that the whole point is to make these industrially and economically successful projects. So they are not things that can be dictated by the governments; we try to involve industry.”

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