Defense Secretary Austin: U.S.-India partnership ‘remains resilient and strong’

Lloyd Austin (center) and man in uniform walking on red carpet past row of other people in uniform holding musical instruments (© Manish Swarup/AP Images)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh March 20 to discuss the two countries’ growing partnership. (© Manish Swarup/AP Images)

The United States and India are expanding their defense partnership to ensure peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

As part of his first overseas trip as U.S. secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh March 19–20 to advance the two countries’ increasingly important alliance.

“As the world faces a global pandemic and growing challenges to an open and stable international system, the U.S. and India relationship is a stronghold of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Austin said after the meeting in New Delhi.

Austin and Singh pledged to increase the countries’ security cooperation through training and defense trade, as well as information sharing and emerging areas for cooperation such as artificial intelligence, space and cybersecurity.

The world’s two largest democracies are committed to ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region. As part of the Quad, the United States and India, along with Australia and Japan regularly consult on issues related to maritime security, countering disinformation, counterterrorism, development assistance and humanitarian disaster relief.

The U.S.-India defense partnership includes joint military exercises, such as the Malabar naval exercise, which helps keep the Indo-Pacific region safe for maritime navigation, and Yudh Abhyas, an Army exercise designed to increase preparedness for a wide range of scenarios, including counterterrorism operations and disaster relief.

The United States also participated in Aero India 2021, February 3–5 in Bengaluru, India. The defense exhibition and air show is one avenue through which U.S. technology and defense companies help India advance its military, scientific and defense business sectors.

“Despite today’s challenging security environment, the partnership between the United States and India, the world’s two largest democracies, remains resilient and strong,” Austin said. “And we will seek every opportunity to build upon this major partnership.”