India and U.S. National Defense Strategy

Although India is not mentioned in the executive summary of the US’ National Defence Strategy (NDS) released on January 19th (the document in itself remains classified material), by embracing the Indo-Pacific concept and the need to “expand Indo-Pacific alliances and partnerships”, the NDS implicitly calls for closer US-India defence links.

The NDS also singles out that China’s “military modernisation, influence operations, and predatory economics” aims “to coerce neighboring countries” (the latter widely assumed to be a criticism of the Belt and Road Initiative) which is in line with India’s military and political thinking.

The NDS also confirms the emerging view among the Quad (Australia-India-Japan-US) that China is the main disruptive force in the region (publicly mentioned by the navy chiefs of the four countries at a panel held within the Raisina dialogue).

However, India will be less comfortable with the NDS’s other target: Russia, the country’s historical partner and, by most accounts, still the main source of India’s defence imports.

Meanwhile major US and India think tanks (The Heritage Foundation, Observer Research Foundation, Hudson Institute) released a report advocating a strengthened Indo-US partnership to shape a peaceful, prosperous and security Indo- Pacific, deemed a region that matters to the whole world. [*”The New India-US Partnership in the Indo-Pacific: Peace, Prosperity and Security”, full text is available for download]

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