Home Contact Us  

US & South Asia - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5015, 11 April 2016
Ashton Carterís India Visit: What is the Agenda?
Vivek Mishra
Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace, SIPA, Columbia University

An enviable consistency has come to characterise Indo-US relations for some time now, with the bilateral defence relationship spearheading other areas of cooperation between the two countries. The US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's three-day visit to India that started on 10 April, which will climax with a widely anticipated joint statement on 13 April, is a significant step in fostering the acquired momentum between the two sides.

On the eve of his visit to India, Carter told the Council on Foreign Relations at New York that he will talk about "exciting new projects" during his visit to India. The visit is being held as ‘high-profile’ given the expectations with regards to final breakthrough announcements in the joint statement. The media contingent travelling with Secretary Carter has also fuelled this outlook.

Assessing the Likely Deliverables
From less than a week before his visit, when the Pentagon was still teetering on the final date of Carter’s visit to India, the three-day programme has certainly been precipitated to coincide with immediate goals. The US seems to have taken full cognizance of India’s hunt for fighter jets, which is still on the fence. One of the likely accomplishments of the visit seems to be in the deal to produce American fighter aircraft in India under the Make in India initiative. While Boeing is expected to manufacture the F16 'Super Viper', Lockheed Martin will make a customised F/A 18 'Super Hornet'.

The speculations regarding an aircraft deal find themselves further validated when looked at with the meeting between the two US companies, Pentagon's Director for International Cooperation Keith Webster, and top Indian officials, in the preceding week. The deal that is likely to take the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route is expected to meet both indigenous requirements as well as exports in the long term, thereby giving a boost to realising the co-production and co-development clause under the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI).

While the fighter aircraft deal has hogged the limelight because of the economic stakes involved and its consequential employment opportunities in India, there are three ‘foundational’ agreements which, if reached, would further entrench India-US defence relations: Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geospatial intelligence. The underlying purpose of all the three agreements is to bolster interoperability between the armed forces of the two countries through various means and under different circumstances. For instance, the LSA would allow both the countries to access supplies, spare parts and services from each other’s land facilities, air bases, and ports in return for payments.

India has so far been very circumspect, allowing cooperation in these areas only a 'case-by-case' basis. The CISMOA intends to make communications between the two countries secure through the supply of encrypted communications equipment from the US. And BECA would facilitate passing on of topographical and aeronautical data and equipment from the US to India improving targeted strikes and better navigation.

The two sides are also likely to announce new mechanisms to improve service-to-service relations in order to promote better understanding of acquisitions, technology pooling, and developments. As the two countries have more than 50 bilateral exercises annually between them, service-to-service exchanges will also smoothen efficient interoperability.

That Carter has described the US-India relationship as a “strategic handshake” is itself important. To say the least, in the present context it means a give-and-take relationship with possible trade-offs for either side. So, while the US would stand to benefit more from agreement such as the LSA, given its reach in the Indian Ocean, the Indo-Pacific and the South China Sea, India is likely to benefit immensely through CISMOA, if signed, vis-à-vis terror activities from across its borders. However, challenges remain between the two sides on other agreements such as the End Use Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) and the Enhanced End Use Monitoring Agreement (EEUMA). Since these agreements require monitoring equipment even after sale by the supplier and hence access to these equipment, India has kept away from bringing them up and a discussion during this visit is unlikely.

Beyond Defence
Secretary Carter has summed up the purpose of his India visit as having a “whole global agenda.” The attempt to move beyond specifics of bilateral relations towards a grand strategy in the region has not seemed overstated, at least in the recent past. Some of the defence agreements cited above, which the US is pushing for, would assist in locating more bilateral convergences in the policies of two sides. India’s Act East policy and the US rebalance have already coalesced in the Indo-Pacific. With every high profile visit, the two countries appear to move a step closer in forming a regional grand strategy.

During President Obama’s visit in January 2015 the two countries announced the crucial, "US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region." For the first time, India stood with the US in arguing for the freedom of navigation and over flight in the South China Sea. More recently, the US-India Defense Technology and Partnership Act has already been introduced in the US Congress to elevate India-US relationship to a special status. However, it remains to be seen if Secretary Carter and Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will extend the contours of a rapidly shaping grand strategy in the region, largely riding on the bilateral defence relationship.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
President Trump's Year in Office: A Foreign Policy Review

The Iran Deal Under a Clinton Presidency

Failed Nuclear Deal with Japan: Will it affect Indo-US Nuclear Cooperation?

Southeast Asia: A Three-Pronged US Strategy

China, the CUES, and Freedom of Navigation

Camp Pendleton Exercise: Heralding the Future US-Asia Security Dynamics?

Rebalance Under Threat?

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.