Second 2+2 dialogue is a chance to set ambitions high: US defence expert

PTI Washington | Updated on December 18, 2019 Published on December 18, 2019

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The first 2+2 was held in New Delhi in September last year after the mechanism was approved by Modi and Trump

Observing that the defence ties between India and the United States (US) remain very strong and growing, an eminent defence and aerospace expert has said that the second 2+2 dialogue between the two countries is a chance to set ambitions high.

The 2+2 dialogue on Wednesday comes after a record four meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump this year, including the massive joint address by the leaders in Houston in September.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh would be hosted by their American counterparts Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department for the dialogue.

The first 2+2 was held in New Delhi in September last year after the mechanism was approved by Modi and Trump.

India-US defence ties remain very strong and growing. The second 2+2 is a chance to set ambitions high, Vikram J Singh, former Pentagon and State Department official during the previous Obama Administration said.

Operationally, we’ve seen breakthroughs like tri-service exercises and the robust engagement of the QUASD (India and the US with Japan and Australia), Singh, who is currently a senior advisor for Defense and Aerospace for the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), said.

The major challenges, he noted, are peripheral to defence but could affect it: trade disputes that remain unresolved and United States (US) sanctions on Russia and Iran that could affect India.

Responding to a question, Singh said that these talks range from political to strategic to tactical.

From a defence standpoint, as success only requires completion of the ISA (Industrial Security Annex) that will allow our companies to share sensitive information and collaborate far more closely, he said, adding that announcing MH-60 Romeo helicopters and the MK-45 Naval guns would be a bonus.

BECA, the agreement that allows sharing geospatial intelligence, is long-overdue and would be a great benefit to both countries, especially India given its border disputes, Singh noted.

But it’s expected to take longer, he added.

Appreciating Defence Minister Singh’s visit to the Norfolk military base in Virginia, he said more cooperation on Aircraft carriers or moves toward a government-to-government agreement for a naval fighter (the F-18) will be closely watched.

With ISA and BECA, the logistics agreement and COMCASA, India and the US will really become major defence partners in a way that is more meaningful. They will operate more closely. They can share threats and work jointly in real time, Singh said.

The Indian P8-i maritime surveillance aircraft become far more capable. From freedom of navigation at sea to tracking pirates or terrorists on illegal nuclear proliferation, these agreements make both nations far more secure, he said in response to a question.

Published on December 18, 2019
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