U.S.-India Defense Ties: A Delicate Dance

Opinion

U.S.-India Defense Ties: A Delicate Dance

Supporters of the U.S.-India defense relationship have had a lot to celebrate in recent weeks. After a three-year wait, last week the Indian government finally inked an agreement to procure 37 helicopters from Boeing worth about $3 billion. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has also permitted the U.S. military to recommence their search for remains of World War II servicemen in Arunachal Pradesh. Even the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI)—a key mechanism to deepen defense cooperation which had been languishing since its inception in 2012—has finally moved forward in the last few months. However, both nations need to address some operational and strategic hurdles that remain to ensure the success of the initiative. At an operational level, more input from the Indian armed services needs to be incorporated when selecting and developing projects, as they will be the main customers of these technologies. Further, both nations would benefit from adjusting expectations on the pace and depth of their collaboration. These measures are crucial, given that defense cooperation is a cornerstone of U.S.-India relations.

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