Top American naval commander holds talks with Navy chief
Chief of US naval operations Admiral Michael Gilday on Tuesday held extensive talks with Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh with a focus on boosting overall bilateral maritime security cooperation in the backdrop of growing Chinese muscle-flexing in key waterways including in the Indo-Pacific.
Admiral Gilday is on a five-day visit to India from October 11 to 15.
Officials said a range of issues including the regional security scenario, the situation in the Indo-Pacific and ways to further expand bilateral maritime cooperation figured in the talks.
After laying a wreath at the National War Memorial, the top American naval commander said India has a “long and distinguished record” of contributing to global security.
“Thank you Admiral Singh and the @indiannav for hosting me during my visit to India. We are committed to operationalising our #USIndiaDefense partnership, including through enhanced information-sharing, regional security, and exercising at sea together,” Admiral Gilday tweeted.
He is also scheduled to visit Indian Navy’s Western Command in Mumbai and Eastern Command at Visakhapatnam where he is scheduled would interact with the respective Commander-in-Chiefs.
“Admiral Gilday is also scheduled to embark the US Navy’s Carrier Strike Group off the East Coast of India along with an Indian delegation,” Indian Navy Spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.
The Carrier Strike Group is being led by nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and it is participating in the second phase of the high-voltage Malabar exercise from October 12-15.
The exercise features the navies of all four Quad countries comprising India, the US, Australia and Japan.
“Both the Indian and the US navies have also been cooperating towards exploring new avenues for collaboration with a shared aim of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” Commander Madhwal said.
Indo-US defence ties
The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.
In June 2016, the US had designated India a “Major Defence Partner”.
The two countries have also inked key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provides for deeper cooperation.
The two sides also signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.
In October last year, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties.
The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries.