An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 29 September 2005

We predicted a change in the relations between India and USA which was likely to be a very important strategic factor in future world activities in the Indian Ocean especially vis a vis China. India is in a favourable position to get supplies and technology from USA, Russia, Europe and Israel. This new globalisation in India including in defence is glaring. When one sees Deccan Airways employing foreign pilots as Commanders for their  planes, in this semi strategic sector, it is evidence of change –– Indian companies can now afford to pay world class wages. This is heartening as a sign of India's emergence on the world scene. India's economy has been bullish for the last two years but the evidence is now for all to see. At most conferences one can see US investment to India on the rise and India's stock market is zooming and is predicted to touch the 10,000 mark by next year end –– having revved up 1000 points in just 45 days.

Exercise Malabar

The USS Nimitz is off Mumbai for Ex Malabar 2006 to exercise with our own aircraft carrier INS Viraat and the Air Chief was due to be on board to see the F-18s operating but had to decline, and his reps will watch the operations along with the NDTV team flown in from Paris after reporting on the $3 billion Scorpene submarine deal. This is globalisation too for India's media, and the deal was announced in Paris but MOD in Delhi kept mum.

Forty-two US soldiers and officers are at Varangette, Indian Army's Insurgency School and the US F-16s will be in back in Kalaikunda next month for the Cope India series of exercises. The USS Trenton will be inspected by the Vice Chief of the Navy, 2 P3C Orions in the surveillance role will be leased to the Indian Navy. INS Tarangini is in Calghari in beautiful Sardinia in Italy and Vice Admiral Suresh Bangara flew in to meet the ship at Italy's tall ship get together called Valeiri. India's outgoing Amabssador Himachal Som has done well to cement defence relations and the Indian Navy is looking at the Blackshark torpedo for the Scorpenes. The Italian Navy Chief Vice Admiral Bruno Brancaforti is due to visit India next month and Air Marshal Geoff Sheppard, Australia’s Air Chief, a Mirage and F 111 pilot, is a guest of the Indian Air Force in India. This is the true opening up of defence in India. We post a very revealing analysis from the September issue of the Asian Military Review for our viewers and welcome your comments.

The Far Reaching India–US Defence Framework

By Cmde Ranjit B Rai (Retd)

(Courtesy:  Asian Military Review, Sep 2005)

It has been commented that India’s defence policy like its earlier nuclear policy in the 70s and 80s(when it professed it had no nuclear ambitions) has ambiguity, and yet there is boast of clarity when the cat is let out of the bag. This generally takes the world and most Indians by surprise as the 1998 nuclear blasts did. In yet another such a move, India’s Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee proceeded to USA for a five day visit as a guest of Secretary Rumsfeld. On June 28, 2005 in Washington he along with Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed a 'New Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship’ that supercedes the 'Agreed Minute on Defence Relations Between the United States and India' signed in January 1995’. The text is reproduced below with comments and analysis. There has been a warming up of Indo-US ties since 9/11 and both countries saw whole new possibilities that could accrue in a stronger mutual defence relationship, as a precursor to further cooperation in the East, especially witnessing the meteoric rise of China. USA has always played the balance of power game and another chapter has begun, which will be beneficial to both countries. USA has vast and rising economic interests in India and can offer much more, while India’s economic potential is being unleashed supported by military power with nuclear capability.

The hard core of India’s nuclear arsenal is in civilian hands and its operational ‘modus operandi’ is very securely guarded with ambiguity even from the military. Hence a “no first use clause” is enshrined in India’s nuclear policy but India was not allowed nuclear supplies.In mid July however after Mukerjee’s visit an agreement signed between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Bush India will be required to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities and open sites to IAEA inspections. This will be challenge but will allow nuclear supplies to India. That is a break through.



1. The United States and India have entered a new era. We are transforming our relationship to reflect our common principles and shared national interests. As the world's two largest democracies, the United States and India agree on the vital importance of political and economic freedom, democratic institutions, the rule of law, security, and opportunity around the world. The leaders of our two countries are building a U.S.-India strategic partnership in pursuit of these principles and interests.

2. Ten years ago, in January 1995, the Agreed Minute on Defence Relations Between the United States and India was signed. Since then, changes in the international security environment have challenged our countries in ways unforeseen ten years ago. The US–India defence relationship has advanced in a short time to unprecedented levels of cooperation unimaginable in 1995. Today, we agree on a new Framework that builds on past successes, seizes new opportunities, and charts a course for the US–India defence relationship for the next ten years. This defence relationship will support, and will be an element of, the broader U.S.-India strategic partnership.

(Comment –– This is the background against which Strobe Talbott held meetings with India’s then Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh in the Clinton era. Condelezza Rice progressed matters and visited India earlier in 2005 and paved the way for the Defence Minister and then the Prime Minister to visit Washington in July after the Defence framework was signed. Sixteen agreements were signed and one with a clear aim to enhance India’s nuclear, space, agricultural and economic status with US support. India direly needs nuclear fuel and heavy water for its power plants.)

3. The USIndia defence relationship derives from a common belief in freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, and seeks to advance shared security interests. These interests include:

  • Maintaining security and stability;

  • Defeating terrorism and violent religious extremism;

  • Preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and associated materials, data, and technologies; and

  • Protecting the free flow of commerce via land, air and sea lanes.

(Comment –– This clause is all encompassing to enable dialogue on Proliferation Security Initiative PSI and CSI and stability in the Indian Ocean and issues relating to terrorism and exchange of intelligence.)

4. In pursuit of this shared vision of an expanded and deeper U.S.-India strategic relationship, our defence establishments shall:

  1. Conduct joint and combined exercises and exchanges;

  2. Collaborate in multinational operations when it is in their common interest;

  3. Strengthen the capabilities of our militaries to promote security and defeat terrorism;

  4. Expand interaction with other nations in ways that promote regional and global peace and stability;

  5. Enhance capabilities to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction;

  6. In the context of our strategic relationship, expand two-way defence trade between our countries. The United States and India will work to conclude defence transactions, not solely as ends in and of themselves, but as a means to strengthen our countries' security, reinforce our strategic partnership, achieve greater interaction between our armed forces, and build greater understanding between our defence establishments;

  7. In the context of defence trade and a framework of technology security safeguards, increase opportunities for technology transfer, collaboration, co-production, and research and development;

  8. Expand collaboration relating to missile defence;

  9. Strengthen the abilities of our militaries to respond quickly to disaster situations, including in combined operations;

  10. Assist in building worldwide capacity to conduct successful peacekeeping operations, with a focus on enabling other countries to field trained, capable forces for these operations;

  11. Conduct exchanges on defence strategy and defence transformation;

  12. Increase exchanges of intelligence; and

  13. Continue strategic-level discussions by senior leadership from the U.S. Department of Defence and India's Ministry of Defence, in which the two sides exchange perspectives on international security issues of common interest, with the aim of increasing mutual understanding, promoting shared objectives, and developing common approaches.

(Comment –– An agreement has been reached to appoint an Indian liaison officer in the Pacific Command HQ in Honolulu. An official statement said, The United States and India will work to conclude defence transactions, not solely as ends in and of themselves, but as a means to strengthen out countries' security, reinforce our strategic partnership, achieve greater interactions between our armed forces, and build greater understanding between our defence establishments.' However even before the ink was dry Defence Minister on return to India stated India will go it alone for its missile defence. India is building its own BMD based on the Green Pine Israeli and Rajendra Indian radars, Israeli aerostats with EL/M 2083 radars and the selection of a missile to match the system possibly the Arrow or Aster is on. However these are early days for BMD but it rules out US facilities on Indian soil.)

5. The Defence Policy Group shall continue to serve as the primary mechanism to guide the U.S.-India strategic defence relationship. The Defence Policy Group will make appropriate adjustments to the structure and frequency of its meetings and of its subgroups, when agreed to by the Defence Policy Group co-chairs, to ensure that it remains an effective mechanism to advance US–India defence cooperation.

6. In recognition of the growing breadth and depth of the U.S.-India strategic defence relationship, we hereby establish the Defence Procurement and Production Group and institute a Joint Working Group for mid-year review of work overseen by the Defence Policy Group. The Defence Procurement and Production Group will oversee defence trade, as well as prospects for co-production and technology collaboration, broadening the scope of its predecessor subgroup the Security Cooperation Group. The Defence Joint Working Group will be subordinate to the Defence Policy Group and will meet at least once per year to perform a midyear review of work overseen by the Defence Policy Group and its subgroups (the Defence Procurement and Production Group, the Joint Technical Group, the Military Cooperation Group, and the Senior Technology Security Group), and to prepare issues for the annual meeting of the Defence Policy Group.

(Comment –– The Military Industrial Complex of USA is keen to open up the Indian market and Indian business houses are keen to collaborate and the framework offers the vehicle. The F 16s and F 18s and P3c Orions are on offer. India will be allowed to purchase Aegis technology, which is the latest to protect naval vessels from anti-ship missiles. So far, only Japan and South Korea have acquired this technology, partly because of its cost. Indian Navy has been cleared to purchase the P 3C anti-submarine patrol aircraft and ASW helicopters and low frequency sonars. The United States, which until a few years ago regarded the Indian naval build-up –– based on Soviet technology –– as a threat to U.S. control of sea lanes in the Indian Ocean, is now set to bolster the Indian Navy to be its proxy guardian of the Indian Ocean. It is therefore selling New Delhi naval technology that will allow the Indians to fulfill one of their key strategic objectives, which is to be able to control regional sea lanes.)

7. The Defence Policy Group and its subgroups will rely upon this Framework for guidance on the principles and objectives of the U.S.-India strategic relationship, and will strive to achieve those objectives.

(Signed in Arlington, Virginia, USA, on June 28, 2005, in two copies in English, each being equally authentic.)

The defence framework has potential for interoperability in the Indian Ocean region. USA has used the military route of exercises with the Indian Armed Forces beginning with the Navy and its Malabar series, and now embraced by the Air Force with Cope Thunder series and Army, on a regular basis with élan. Analysts claim these military exercises and the growing voice and clout of the large up market Indian community in USA has had salutary effect on Americans, to look to India more favourably. The defence framework will also enable USA’s military industrial complex to push for sales of American hardware though the FMS route and the impediments of partisan Congressional approvals, will be a stumbling block. So far Indian Armed Forces purchase only some $ 74 mill of military equipment from civilian agencies, and have contracted to buy 12 ANTPQ 37 Fire Finder Radars from Raytheon/Thales combine for $ 212 million. The deal was ridden with anomalies, as the charges for modifications for Indian conditions were exorbitant. It is confirmed Indian Navy is eyeing the Austin class USS Trenton a LPD landing platform dock, is in the US Congressional list for approval to transfer to India on payment, while the USS Fletcher a Spruance is in the grants list for Pakistan. Six Avenger class mine hunters and a DSRV are also on offer and the Navy is seriously looking at the 6 P 3C Orion option. The US is also to begin supplying around 15 to 20 types of specialised equipment for the Army’s Special Forces units, including laser designators, helmets, body armour and a range of other classified gear. The agreement with Washington follows the joint manoeuvres conducted by the Indian and the USSF in Ladakh two years ago, and subsequent interaction between the two specialised forces.

In USA Pranab Mukherjee meet with Congressmen Warner and Lewis in response to a demand U.S. Senator John Kerry had apparently made from the floor of the U.S. Senate that perhaps India should send troops to Iraq. An Indian Armed Forces officer will be appointed to the Pacific Command for liaison. It was revealed that the Indian Minister asked Secretary Rumsfeld why India could not interact with the Central Command rather than the Pacific and Secretary Rumsfeld in a lighter vein quipped that it would be feasible if India sent a Division to Iraq, which of course India’s Prime Minister has ruled out. Mukherjee spoke at the Brookings Institution where he was presented a report on US–India relations. Later briefing media persons about the gist of the report, he said: "The report effectively captures the excitement and potential of the transformation of U.S.-India relations is generating at present. Its recommendations are particularly timely on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's upcoming visit to the U.S. which will hope will be a prelude to President Bush's visit to India, the first after President Clinton's visit in March, 2000."

It acknowledged that the DPG would continue to 'serve as the primary mechanism to guide the US-India strategic defence relationship' and noted that the DPG would make 'appropriate adjustments to the structure and frequency of its meetings and of its subgroups, when agreed to by the DPG co-chairs, to ensure that it remains an effective mechanism to advance US-India defence cooperation.'

Besides expanding collaboration in missile defence and a host of other cooperative ventures between the defence establishments of both countries, including strengthening the capabilities of both militaries to promote security and defeat terrorism and enhancing the capabilities to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the agreement said two-way defence trade would also be an integral component.


It is too early to offer conclusions and one will have to wait till the dust settles. However the framework, general in its wording, allowing a lot of laxity to both signing parties has been very well received in India. The general comment is that the bureaucratic system in India is dilatory, and unless there is dynamism the effects of the framework will result in many more Service-to- Service engagements, exercises and bonhomie while the substantial part will take time to crystallise. As a prelude India is watching the scene in Iraq very carefully and engaging Pakistan deeply to ensure stability in the region. There could be US India cooperation in trouble-ridden Nepal.

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