US wants 'more jointness' in military operations with India
Washington: US commanders are keen to develop "more jointness" in military operations with India to enhance strategic combat capabilities of both the forces.
Suggesting that US forces under its Pacific Command (PACOM) were working to "advance and deepen" relationship with India, a top US commander has said that currently American and Indian forces were engaged in as many as 56 military exercises every year.
"What we are really trying to do is to make (India-US military) relationship as routine, formalise and functional in a way that great partners do. We have two different set of capabilities in some areas and in other areas we have tremendous alignment in our capabilities," Director of India Strategic Focus Group (ISFG) Col Michael Albaneze said.
Albaneze heads the six-member ISFG that advises Pacific Commander Navy Adm Samuel J Locklear III on how to advance and strengthen the partnership with the Indian military.
Comprising of civilian and military experts, the group established in 2009, is often referred as a "mini think-tank" within the Pacific Command, which now has a robust exercise programme with the Indian military.
"We are a small group. We advise the commander based on looking at the situation in South Asia and it helps him so the strategic focus of the group is large relationship between the US and Indian militaries," he said explaining the ISFG's role.
In one of the recommendations, the group has called for more co-ordination between the Central and Pacific commands given that India is on the border of the two. It also advocated more engagement with India in the Af-Pak region.
"What I really want to do is to take that programme from where it is at today and to continue to advance and deepen it. I would like to look at more jointness in the way we do operations that really enhances the capabilities of both militaries when they are doing exercise," Albaneze said, adding that there are great engaging opportunities between the two militaries.
"We have so many common interests. When you look across the board from everything from national interest... Align pretty well. There are a lot of areas where we do really come together and I think because of that it has developed into a very robust program where we are trying to do things with each other that are mutually beneficial," he said.
As a reflection of the defense ties between the two countries, India and the United States are now engaged in as many as 56 military exercises every year.
Counter-terrorism and maritime security are huge regional challenges, he said in response to a question.
The US and Indian navies collaborations are primarily in the Indian Ocean region, he added.