A road map and recipe for US-India defense ties
Many recent articles have commented on the potential benefits of a new, closer U.S. defense relationship with India. The details of what will. Since the signing of the New Framework for Defense Cooperation in , the United States and India have made remarkable strides in their defense relations. The U.S.-India defense relationship has advanced in a short time to rely upon this Framework for guidance on the principles and objectives of the U.S.-India.
Balance of power This cooperation, while meaningful, does not move quickly. The defence partnership has proven to be a low velocity, high inertia affair — slow, steady, but unlikely to change course absent a major disruption.
The joint statement released by Trump and Modi underlined and indeed broadened this strategic rationale for defence cooperation. On counter-terrorism the Modi-Trump summit largely reaffirmed the gains that both countries have made, but pointed to areas in which we might eventually see closer cooperation.
The road ahead Where then might we expect the defence and security relationship to go from here?
A road map and recipe for US-India defense ties
There are three areas worth watching. The first is that we are likely to see a steady tempo of defence sales. India is in the midst of a long overdue defence modernisation, and this demand-side impetus for US-India defence trade is supplemented by the understanding in New Delhi that Trump will likely continue to measure the bilateral relationship in part by the volume of manufacturing that it generates at home.
The US-India defence Technology and Trade Initiative has contributed to a liberalised technology release policy by the US such that few defence technologies are now subject to license review, and those that are reviewed are quite likely to be approved.
Removing Barriers to U.S.-India Defense Trade - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
This is the second area to watch. In addition, the transfer of certain sensitive technologies are difficult to justify or legally approve by the US defence community unless India demonstrates that it will use the technologies to engage in meaningful defence activities with the US such as joint patrols or operationsand is willing to sign enabling agreements that would facilitate the sharing of sensitive communications security and geospatial information.
India has, to date, resisted these operational and legal measures due to bureaucratic resistance and vague concerns regarding sovereignty. Befitting their exceptional standings, the two countries have designed their own singularly complex systems of regulations and processes for arms sales and procurement.
And those systems are in tension with one another because the defense trade objectives of the two countries—while similar—are not perfectly aligned. The United States uses arms sales to enable closer partnerships and interoperability with its friends and allies.
The overarching objective of U. The United States also leverages arms exports to maintain the U.
Indo-US ties improve under Modi and Trump - The Hindu BusinessLine
It has also sought to root out opportunities for corruption by issuing detailed, prescriptive procedures. To create a level playing field, the DPP prioritizes multivendor competitions over sole-source procurements as a way to minimize corruption and get more favorable pricing. Washington and New Delhi have taken some constructive steps in recent years to make the defense acquisitions process easier.
India has raised its caps on foreign direct investment in domestic defense firms from 26 percent to 49 percent ownership stakeswhich makes it easier for foreign firms to enter into joint ventures with Indian companies.
Meanwhile, the United States formally changed its export policy for India beginning inwhen then president George W. In the intervening years, Washington made several additional adjustments to export control policies to facilitate arms sales to New Delhi.
Significantly, it transitioned from a presumption of denial posture—a policy that effectively blocked exports of sensitive military or dual use technologies to India without significant justification—to a general policy of approval for exports of most military technologies to India provided they are not to be used in nuclear, missile, chemical, or biological weapons programs.How US-India security deal is aimed at China
As a result of these efforts, American firms have successfully sold several high-end platforms to India sinceincluding P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, C and C transport aircraft, M howitzers, and Apache and Chinook helicopters. Procedural and Policy Disconnects The string of recent American defense sales to India notwithstanding, persistent disconnects between U.
A review of five of the most significant obstacles demonstrates that these differences are not insurmountable, but worthy of dedicated attention. Promoting Partnership and Interoperability Whereas the U.
But the bar for such decisions is prohibitively high and unlikely to be used outside of truly exceptional circumstances. A decision to bypass the normal procurement procedure can only be made by the Cabinet Committee on Security—whose members include the prime minister and national security adviser, as well as the ministers of defense, external affairs, finance, and home affairs—and then only after the Defense Procurement Board recommends doing so.
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That board is chaired by the defense minister and composed of senior military and career civil service officers with competing motivations. In a system with a history of corruption scandals, any recommendation by the Defense Procurement Board that circumvented normal procedures would have to be defended vigorously from inevitable accusations of foul play; this state of affairs reduces the likelihood such exceptions would be pursued.
Defense procurement by its very nature has geostrategic implications. The DPP should acknowledge this by factoring geostrategic considerations into routine procurement decisions as one of the standard selection assessment criteria, rather than continue to allow them to be weighed only in exceptional situations. For American firms, two factors drive what they can offer India—U.
S government has demonstrated its intent to sell sophisticated platforms and transfer technology to India, there are some technologies it will not share with any country so it can maintain its competitive edge.
There also may be circumstances in which the U. American firms that cannot meet the technology transfer requirements of an RFP in a commercially viable way choose not to compete, closing off an opportunity for cooperation.
The strategic partnership concept requires foreign firms to partner with select domestic companies, an arrangement that introduces questions of ownership rights and control over proprietary technology. To foster an environment conducive to defense cooperation with foreign vendors, it will be important for India to base its technology transfer requirements on realistic assessments of the sensitivity of the technology desired and the strength of the business case for moving that technology to India.
This practice is mirrored in cooperation between the U. Critically, as India looks to spur private domestic firms to engage in defense manufacturing and development, it is putting in place standard operating procedures and an oversight system for private companies to manage classified military information.
New Delhi must conclude a governmental agreement with Washington regarding private sector security practices before U. India would be unwise to dismiss U. This preference is driven in part by fears of corruption, the logic being that smaller bids make the potential misuse of funds less lucrative.
This is the case even if, for example, an American firm and, by extension, the U.