US eyeing military bases in India: Report

NEW DELHI: United States, which has lined up several joint military exercises with the Indian armed forces, is interested in establishing access to military bases in the country, claims a US defence specialist quoting a latest Pentagon report.

 The report, quoted by the American specialist who advises US industry and policy-makers, says, “American military officers are candid in their plans to eventually seek access to Indian bases and military infrastructure.” The report based on interviews of senior US and Indian military officials has been quoted by the specialist, John E Carbaugh Jr, in a website US-India friendship.net.

 “India’s strategic location in the centre of Asia, astride the frequently travelled Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC) linking Middle East and East Asia, makes India particularly attractive to the US military,” Carbaugh said quoting the recent Pentagon report, entitled Indo-US Military Relationship: Expectations and Perceptions.

Carbaugh, in his paper on the same issue, said, “currently, the Pentagon is undertaking a major review of the future of US bases in Asia in order to have more flexibility in responding to regional crises and to deal with terrorism.”

He quotes the Pentagon report as saying that for many American military personnel “India is the most attractive alternative. For these reasons, several Americans underscored that eventual access to Indian military infrastructure represents a critical strategic hedge against dramatic changes in traditional US relationships in Asia”.  

Carbaugh quoted US armed forces officials as saying the US navy wanted a relatively neutral territory on the opposite side of the world that could provide ports and support for operations in the Middle East. “India not only has a good infrastructure, the Indian Navy has proved that it can fix and fuel US ships. Over time, port visits must become a natural event,” the US officials were quoted as saying and adding that India was “a viable player in supporting all naval missions, including escorting and responding to regional crises”. 

In the same vein, “the US air force would like the Indians to grant them access to bases and landing rights during operations, such as counter-terrorism and heavy airlift support,” the American military officials said. 

The report also said that although the Pentagon was rethinking its strategies to deal with modern threats such as terrorism, “US officials are still concerned over the more traditional geo-political problems in the region, notably a rising China.” 

Carbaugh quoted the Pentagon report as concluding that “the US and India should forge a long-term security alliance partly aimed at containing China.”

“Strategic engagement with India could become a future investment of growing value if Asia becomes a hostile environment,” it says, adding that Pentagon felt India “should emerge as a vital component of US strategy.”

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