By Safiye ERGUN
Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral John Aquilino held a meeting with General Bipin Rawat in India on August 24-26, 2021. During his visit, Admiral Aquilino held extensive talks with Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Why these meetings matter?
Based on current developments it is clear that the US has expanded its binds with Asian states. It is obvious that the US wants to have strong relations with the states that have Asian identities, which can be strategic against China. This visit is an important sign that portrays the US’ will to develop military relations with India against China.
What have been talked?
The most striking issues discussed during the visits were the (a) military cooperation between the two countries, (b) China’s growing army and navy and even its nuclear arms and lastly (c) emphasis on QUAD.
- The Commander said the US’s relationship with India is based on “aligned values” and presents an important model for building enduring partnerships. He quoted a statement issued by the Indo-Pacific Command:
“As we increase interoperability, information-sharing, and access with allies and partners across the globe, this partnership enhances our capabilities, improves our coordination, and shows that we are stronger when we stand together.”
By accusing with a clear emphasis on China’s aggressive attitudes, the Commander referred to the challenges that India is facing about the “sovereignty on the Line of Actual Control” as well as the “foundational security concerns” in the South China Sea region.
- When he was with Gen. Rawat, Admiral Aquilino mentioned his worries on China’s military expansion. The US side has suspensions on the intent of China:
“I do not really look specifically at the nuclear threat. What I would look at is the entire Chinese way forward with regard to military expansion, the largest military build-up in the history since World War II (in) both conventional and nuclear, in all domains.”
- Gen. Bipin Rawat highlighted that any possible terrorist activity flowing out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan into India will be firmly dealt with, and gave importance to the QUAD nations’ cooperation in the global war on terrorism in this regard.
“I think if any other support can be forthcoming from the QUAD nations, in at least identifying the terrorists and getting some intelligence input to fight this global war on terrorism, I think that will be welcomed,” he added.
The Commander intimated at the possibility to increase the number of participants at the Malabar naval exercise if leaders of the four countries that are part of it at present concurs with it.