Michele Flournoy: India Remains Important Partner to US

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micheleMichele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, called India an “increasingly important partner to the U.S.,” yesterday at a meeting with members of the Asia Society.

The Defense Department policy official explained despite criticism about the Obama administration’s commitment to the U.S.-India relationship, the two nations’ cooperation with each other continues to mature due to shared values and interests.

“The U.S.-India relationship is not built on, and cannot be sustained on, grand gestures or brief moments of crisis,” Flournoy said. “This bond is grounded in common democratic values and converging interests that make India and U.S. natural partners. The U.S. and India have an overarching shared interest in promoting global stability and security.”

Both India and the United States are committed to the long-term stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan and ending the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other harmful advanced technologies, she explained.

One of the most crucial elements in the relationship of the two nations is the Defense Policy Group, which will allow both countries to plan further engagements, discuss concerns and exchange strategies.

“We also have dialogues that discuss our defense trade, service-to-service cooperation [and] technical cooperation, and a group dedicated to developing and ensuring procedures for keeping our technologies secure,” Flournoy said. “The growth and comprehensiveness of this relationship is nothing short of remarkable. My Indian counterparts now tell me that their defense and security relations with the United States are as close as they are with any nation.”

Another element that sustains the relationship is the trading of defense equipment, the undersecretary explained. Through this trade, the department hopes to continue modernizing the Indian military.

“Whether the scenario involves humanitarian assistance, counterterrorism cooperation or maritime security activities,” she explained, “having common equipment will allow more seamless cooperation.”

In the time to come, the United States and India will continue to build on the collaborated efforts to secure global stability and strategy.

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  1. One aspect of US-Indian defense cooperation in dire need of repair is joint operations for the purpose of recovering the remains of the approximately 400 American aviators who perished in the mountains of northeast India during the Second World War. These aviators have families who desperately desire to have their remains repatriated. After a lapse of almost 40 years, these operations resumed on a very small scale in 2008, at the crash site of an American aircraft in Arunachal Pradesh. But since then even this small effort has deteriorated. The Government of India has, according to the US Department of Defense, restricted the US to only one recovery operation per year for the entire territory of India. And the Indian Government, again according to the US DoD, forced the cancellation of the only recovery operation scheduled for 2010. The families of these airmen, which includes my own, have a right to expect that the US and India will unite to achieve a full-scale recovery effort that will finally bring home these brave men to their families for the decent burials they deserve. 

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