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India-US militaries operating more closely than ever: Pentagon chief

Washington: Calling it a partnership which is moving from strength to strength, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said that India-US are positioning their militaries to operate and coordinate more closely together than ever.

“Ties between India and the United States — the world’s two largest democracies — including military ties, are growing stronger,” Autin said in a statement issued by the US Department of Defence.

Austin met External Affairs minister S. Jaishankar in Pentagon on September 26.

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“These conversations reinforce a growing depth, breadth and ambition of our partnership,” Austin said. “And that partnership is moving from strength to strength.”

According to the statement, the military cooperation between the two nations is at an all-time high. Indian and US service members regularly exercise together, and the two governments regularly share information and intelligence, especially in the wake of the geospatial agreement signed between the two governments in 2020.

India participates in the American international military education and training program, the statement said.

“Today, we are positioning the US and Indian militaries to operate and coordinate more closely together than ever,” Austin said.

“We’re taking significant steps to deepen our defense cooperation from stronger information sharing and defense industrial ties to cooperation in emerging defense domains, including through the launch of a new dialogue later this year.”

The Indian military is becoming more interoperable with its US partners. India has purchased Apache helicopters, Seahawk helicopters and has expressed interest in other US defense capabilities.

“All this will help ensure that our militaries are ready for future challenges,” the US secretary said.

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The two nations work in a bilateral fashion, but also with other nations. “The United States and India, along with a dozen other Indo-Pacific partners, are pushing to expand our region’s prosperity through the Indo-Pacific Economic Dialogue,” Austin said.

“And through our deepening cooperation with Japan and Australia, we are delivering on the issues that matter most to the region: infrastructure development and maritime security.”

India and the United States face sustained challenges to peace, security and prosperity around the world. These challenges “only reaffirm the importance of our partnership,” he said.

Austin earlier spoke to Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on telephone.

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