India’s geo-strategic interests align perfectly with that of the US in terms of being concerned about China, a top American Admiral said. Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of US Pacific Command, welcomed improved Indo-US defence ties, saying the two countries are now involved in increased defence trade and technology transfer. “We are heavily involved and when I say we, the Navy is heavily involved in working with the Indians on the development of their aircraft carrier, their indigenous aircraft carrier. That’s an exciting program,” he told Senators on the topic of Indo-US defence relationship.
“I think India’s geo-strategic interests align perfectly with ours in terms of being concerned about China; in terms of the interaction or the intersection, rather, of China and India, including along their long land border, but especially in the Indian Ocean; especially in the approaches to the Indian Ocean, the Andaman Islands and the like,” Harris said.
Indo-US defence relationship, he said, offers a tremendous opportunity.
“I have made India a formal line of effort at Pacific Command because I believe it represents a tremendous opportunity for the US writ large and for PACOM in particular in the mil-to-mil space,” Harris said.
“We share democratic values with India. We’re the world’s two largest democracies. We share cultural values with Indian- Americans that live and work and lead in our country.”
“In the mil-to-mil space, we are in a very good place and getting better. India is purchasing a lot of American equipment. The world’s second-largest C-17 fleet, for example, is Indian. The Indians have P-8 Poseidon aircraft, US helicopters; howitzers and on and on. There is a lot of opportunity there and we should continue to work that,” Harris told Senator Gary Peters from Michigan.
Peters sought to know about India’s role in the Indian Ocean region at a time of Chinese aggressiveness.
“China’s One Belt One Road strategy seeks to secure China’s control over its continental and maritime interests, with the hopes of dominating Eurasia and exploiting natural resources for future economic gains. Such designs place the country at odds with the US, but also nations like Japan and India,” he said.
Currently, China’s economy and budget is four times greater than those of India, he said, acknowledging New Delhi’s budgetary constraints.
However, India is an ambitious and growing country both in population and its economy, Peters said.
“China and India naturally have competing interests at stake on the continent and adjoining maritime domain. India has expressed concerns over China’s recent expansion into the South China Sea and perceived strategic goal in that region; also given the fact that India is a democracy, certainly shares many values with us here in the US,” he added.