- US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to India paves the way for an upgraded military partnership and deepened defense industry cooperation.
- The shift in India’s reliance on Russia for defense needs due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with increased procurement from the US.
- Growing US-India alliance driven by mutual interests in countering Chinese military influence and securing the India-China border.
US defense secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to India earlier this week to meet with Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. The meeting, which aimed to advance the goals of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) – a security forum of the US, India, Japan, and Australia – laid the foundation for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s forthcoming visit to the US on June 22nd. His anticipated meeting with US President Joe Biden gives Austin’s own meeting more significance for the future of US-Indian relations.
Specifically, the meeting highlighted a notable shift in the US-India alliance, with Austin proposing an upgrade to their military partnership. The discussion revolved around bilateral defense and defense industry agreements, such as the roadmap for U.S.-India Defense Industrial Cooperation, the India-U.S. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X), the Security of Supply Arrangement, and the Reciprocal Defense Procurement agreement. These accords, aimed at expanding India’s arms production capacity in the mid to long term, stand to deepen the links between the US and Indian arms industries. Notably, the U.S.-India Defense Industrial Cooperation expedites technology collaboration and the joint manufacturing of war material, including combat aircraft parts, military vehicles, and munitions.
The accords also demonstrate the mutual interest that India and the US have in containing Chinese military influence and control. For India, deeper cooperation with the US enhances its defensive readiness in the face of continued hostilities on the India-Chinese border, an imperative exemplified in the joint military exercises conducted by US and Indian troops in Uttarakhand last November. For the US, the accords give its arms industry another market to tap into and give the US another avenue to counter China’s power.
These defense agreements signal a shift in India’s foreign policy, driven by the pragmatic necessity of securing armaments. This new direction is noteworthy not just for the immediate acquisition of weaponry, but also for India’s strategy of building a domestic arms industry, facilitated by US support. The sustained conflict in Ukraine increases the likelihood of India diversifying its arms sources, especially towards those who have vested strategic interests such as the US.
However, a de-escalation or conclusion of the Russia-Ukraine war might cause India to return to procuring arms from Russia, as it still possesses numerous Russian systems in its arsenal. Regardless of the war’s outcome, the persisting tension along the disputed India-China border will likely push the US and India into a closer alliance in the coming years. However, this rapprochement will likely unsettle Pakistan, which will diminish its prospects for long-term cooperation with the US.
Kyle Rose is a veteran columnist who writes for “The Islamabad Telegraph” on International Affairs & US Foreign Policy. The views expressed only represent the author’s personal viewpoints which do not necessarily represent our website’s stance.