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US legislation wants Indian soldiers to fight "alongside" US forces, reducing "risk" of American citizens

By Our Representative
A controversial legislation, introduced in the American House of Representatives, US-India Defense Technology and Partnership Act, claiming to underline "fundamental changes between today’s political environment", wants Indian soldiers to fight with other foreign soldiers "alongside US forces, thereby reducing the risk to American men and women."
Introduced a few days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's US visit on March 31, the legislation would also help decrease "the cost of purchasing defense equipment", even as "enabling a foreign country (India) to carry out a military mission that would otherwise be a US responsibility."
Revealing these and other "advantages" of the legislation for the US, a top American defense specialist, Benjamin Schwartz, who is director for defense and aerospace at the US-India Business Council, has said that the the legislation would push the era of the 1990s into the backdrop, when the US imposed sanctions on India.
"These sanctions, which contrast with Russia’s consistent military support, engendered deep Indian suspicion of US motivations and reliability", Shwartz writes in an an Opinion piece in top US daily, "The Wall Street Journal" (March 28).
According to Shwartz, "The legislation also identifies the actions India must take to justify the transfer of advanced US defense technology", adding, "It is in America’s interest to transfer defense technology if the partnership meets certain goals."
Titled "A US India Defense Pact Within Reach", the article says, the "new legislation signals the US wants to partner with India’s military", yet wonders, " Can Delhi justify the collaboration?" Even it does not fulfill all of what the legislation wants, the expert says, India can at least engage "in combined military planning with US officers."
"Developing combined military plans of mutual interest, such as humanitarian and disaster-relief contingency plans, counterpiracy operations and maritime domain awareness missions, would be a major step toward sharing the burden in the Indo-Pacific", Shwartz says.
Insisting that India should "sign basic bilateral defense agreements that facilitate military-to-military interactions, and implement mechanisms that verify the security of US-origin technology and defense equipment against third-party diversion", Shwartz says, "The US has a national security interest in a stronger Indian military. It doesn’t have an interest in strengthening the Russian military, which collaborates closely with India."
"New Delhi doesn’t have to choose between sovereignty and dependency. Countries such as Singapore have maintained their full sovereignty while cooperating with the US on advanced technology", the expert opines, adding, "The next few months could be consequential for the US and India", with the Indian military "considering purchasing major weapons systems from American companies."
Wanting the US Congress to get back George Holding's (Republican, North Carolina) legislation and raise the "bar for the defense partnership", the expert says, this is particularly important because "China’s growing military assertiveness demands international action, and India and the US are uniquely positioned to respond."
Pointing out that US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, who returns to New Delhi next month, "has vigorously pursued the development of an effective defense partnership over the past eight years", the expert, however, warns of hurdles in India.
While Modi "recognizes that a robust defense partnership with the US offers India benefits that no other country or country grouping can provide", he faces "a defense establishment filled with people who personally struggled through the era of U.S. sanctions."
India should remember, says Shwartz, the legislation would "elevate" the country to the "same status as America’s allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as well as its other treaty partners and Israel, for the purpose of arms-sales notifications."
"It communicates an important message. India is special not because of its past contributions as a US military partner, but because of what the country can contribute in the future. Many countries have sought and been denied this status", he notes, pointing towards the emphasis laid on "defense-technology collaboration" in the legislation.

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