Foreign policy shift? US defence budget seeks to advance military ties with India
The USA's $621.5 billion annual defence budget for fiscal 2018, which has been passed by the House of Representatives, seeks to advance of military cooperation with India, already a major defence partner of America. An amendment on enhancing cooperation with India was moved by Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera and adopted by voice vote by the House as part of the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018, beginning October 1 this year. The NDAA-2018 was passed by the House 344-81.
The India-related amendment passed by the House requires the Secretary of Defence, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the United States and India. "The United States is the world's oldest democracy and India is the world's largest democracy. It is vitally important to develop a strategy that advances defence cooperation between our two nations," Bera said.
"I am grateful this amendment passed and look forward to the Defence Department's strategy that addresses critical issues like common security challenges, the role of partners and allies, and areas for collaboration in science and technology," he said. "Cooperation between the US and India enhances our own defence and our ability to meet the evolving security challenges of the 21st century," Bera said. Following the passage of the National Defence Authorisation Act, the Secretary of Defence and Secretary of State have 180 days to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the United States and India. NDAA needs to be passed by the Senate before it can be sent to the White House for the US President Donald Trump to sign into law.
As passed by the House, NDAA-2018 asks the State Department and the Pentagon to develop a strategy that addresses common security challenges, the role of American partners and allies in the India-US defence relationship, and the role of the defence technology and trade initiatives. It also asks them to address how to advance the communications interoperability and security memorandum of agreement and the basic exchange and cooperation agreement for geospatial cooperation.
The previous NDAA-2017 had designated India as a major defence partner which brings India at par with closest American partners in terms of defence trade and technology transfer. Meanwhile, a senior defence official yesterday said that India and US defence relationship is on positive track.
"...(As) we look at the global order, and when we look at the evolving security environment within Asia, India's rise and role (is) evolving, (and) we see the United States and India increasingly viewing the region in the same way, and our interests are very much aligned," explained Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and South-East Asia Cara Abercrombie.…
Links Pak defence funds with progress in war on terror
The US House of Representatives has voted for three legislative amendments to impose tougher conditions for reimbursement of defence funding to Pakistan, making it conditional to Islamabad showing satisfactory progress in the fight against terrorism. The conditions are related to Pakistan's support to terrorists and terror outfits, about which several top US officials and lawmakers have repeatedly expressed concern about in the past.
The bill, as passed by the House, requires the US Secretary of Defence to certify, prior to making any reimbursement to Pakistan, that Islamabad is maintaining security along the Ground Lines of Communication through Pakistan, taking demonstrable steps to support counterterrorism operations, disrupting cross border attacks, and countering the threat of improvised explosive devices.
It also specifies that of the total amount of reimbursement and support authorised for Pakistan during the period beginning on October 1, 2017, and ending on December 31, 2018 — $400 million — would not be eligible for a national security waiver unless the Secretary of Defence certifies that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations against the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan.