Kopar Khairane

Early in June, the US military Secretary will go to India for military negotiations

According to Ely Ratner, the department of defense's assistant secretary for Indo-Pacific strategic affairs, Lloyd Austin, the US secretary of defence, will visit India in early June to further talks on bilateral military cooperation.
Ratner, a key architect of the administration's defence strategy in the region, added that the US and India are now more strategically aligned than ever before and that there is a clear directive from the top political leadership in the American system that the defence relationship with India is a top priority and cannot continue in “business-as-usual” mode.
On June 22, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the US, he made hints about significant announcements and categorically backed co-production and co-development of military weapons to boost India's domestic capabilities.
Since assuming office in January 2021, Austin has been to India twice and the Indo-Pacific region seven times. Austin will speak at the Shangrila discussion in Singapore before departing for New Delhi on June 4 after visiting Tokyo and Singapore.
The secretary's visit occurs before Modi's state visit, one of the results of which is anticipated to be a significant increase in military cooperation. This year, Austin is the fourth US cabinet-level secretary to go to India. In February and March, India was visited by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
Ratner said Austin's visit occurs at a “historic period in building out, deepening, modernising, and advancing the US-India major defence partnership” in answer to a question from HT while speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a well-known Washington, DC, think tank.
He mentioned the launch of the critical and emerging technologies initiative (ICET) this January, which has a significant component on defence industrial cooperation, the recent visit by the Indian defence secretary for bilateral consultations with top Pentagon officials, Austin's upcoming visit, and Modi's visit, which Ratner said will be “very rich”.
Ratner acknowledged that there have been “fits and starts” in the area of bilateral defence industrial cooperation, but added that “what we are seeing is closer than ever strategic alignment, including on this question of what we have as a shared priority of deepening co-development and co-production and bolstering India's indigenous military capabilities as it is looking to strengthen its own military, as it is looking to be a net security provider in the region, and as it is looking to be a provider of security for the entire region.”
According to Ratner, the US supports each of these initiatives. This enables us to work more cooperatively and deploy these technologies than before, in addition to deepening our participation in technology and systems. We are overjoyed.
According to Ratner, success in this field would need departing from “business as usual.” “Our top officials, including the president, the national security advisor (NSA), and the secretary of defence, have said that the situation with India is not business as usual. This is of utmost importance. We wish to see progress in this specific area of co-production and co-development, with ICET serving as the key institution.
At the conclusion of the NSA-level negotiations in January, the White House issued a fact sheet on ICET that stated the US would conduct a “expeditious review” of General Electric's (GE) request “to jointly produce jet engines that could power jet aircraft operated and produced by India.” Both parties agree that giving GE the go-ahead would be a significant symbol of the growing strategic partnership, the US commitment to the Make in India programme, and India's drive towards self-sufficiency.
Ratner said that the area's construction is moving forward. “We are devoting a great deal of work to the issues surrounding GE engines or other types of military capabilities under the ICET umbrella. All of this will be discussed while the Secretary is in Delhi, and we plan to make significant announcements when the PM arrives. If we succeed, you'll find out in a month if you keep an eye on this place.
Ratner, a powerful player in the Pentagon, served as Joe Biden's deputy national security adviser when he was vice president during the Barack Obama administration. In the last two years, he has been instrumental in advancing US security cooperation with South Korea, the Philippines, and the Pacific Island nations as well as assisting Japan's effort to modernise its armed forces and operationalize the Australia-United Kingdom-US (AUKUS) nuclear submarine treaty.

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