Admiral John Richardson, the US Navy Chief is expected in India on May 12 for meetings with his counterpart, Admiral Sunil Lanba and also, the army and air force chiefs, General Bipin Rawat and Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, respectively.
He is also likely to have meetings with top defence ministry officials during his two-day visit. While high-level political contacts are largely on hold because of the elections, discussions between officials and the defence forces are clearly continuing. A ‘mini 2 plus 2 meeting’ involving officials of the Indian Defence and External Affairs Ministry and the American State and Defence department happened very recently.
The visit comes in the wake of a “mini-naval exercise” between India and the United States in the Bay of Bengal recently. One Indian aircraft, the US built P8I and an American submarine were involved and anti-submarine warfare training the primary objective. The presence of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean, ostensibly for anti-piracy missions, has been a source of concern for both the USA and India.
What is noteworthy is the presence of Chinese submarines– hardly an appropriate naval vessel to fight pirates. There is, of course, Malabar, the up-scale exercise between the two countries with Japan being involved as well.
Apart from closer bilateral defence ties, discussions could also be about the region. The recent terror strikes in Sri Lanka and Indo-Pakistan tensions may be on the agenda. Even today, Pakistan is not sending out its warships on foreign visits. This could be to give the world an impression that India may have a ‘naval Balakot’ in mind. And perhaps, there is a genuine fear that the Indian Navy could well do something. It is expected that the absence of a naval attache in the Indian embassy in Washington DC could also come up.
Source : Defence News India