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Indian bureaucracy keeps US arms lobby at bay

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry’s entourage for the fourth strategic level dialogue between the India and the US, included a quiet member, Admiral Sam Locklear, the US Pacific Command chief, who wanted to do a bit of ‘below the radar’ lobbying for US arms traders. But, he was thwarted by what pro-US security experts of the country call, the ‘Indian bureaucracy.’

The only official engagement he had was with the chairman, chiefs of staff committee (COSC), Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne. In fact, as if to underline the fact that Browne was not talking as the chairman, COSC, he reportedly met Locklear in his Vayu Bhavan (IAF HQ) office, and not the South Block of the chairman. A communication official of the ministry of defence had earlier stated: ‘These kinds of (arms trade) talks are usually held away from the formal offices. They usually take place across a private dinner table with other invitees, hosted only for the sake of such talks.’

Reports from Washington on the eve of the Kerry’s visit had talked about a plan that Locklear had; a proposition actually. He was supposed to tell his Indian interlocutors that the US government would like to get the Indian armed forces to ‘use’ some of the armaments that could be offered to India before a ‘buy’ order.

That way, the US manufacturers could seduce the Indian armed forces brass to actually become advocates for the purchase of such materiel. But it is not clear, whether that stratagem worked.  A great barrier to major inroads by Americans into the heart of the Indian armed forces operations was Defence Minister, AK Antony. While talking on this issue, a rather exasperated security expert, who thought that a closer US-India embrace would actually be for the welfare of the country, said, ‘Antony and his leftism has stopped even the interoperability option of the two armed forces.’
Pinaki Bhattacharya

Pinaki Bhattacharya

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