US backs India’s emergence as regional anchor

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Rebalancing its security posture in the Asia-Pacific region, the US says it is investing in a long-term strategic partnership with India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic anchor and security provider.

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The US defence department’s “commitment to the Asia-Pacific region is part of a broader US Government focus”, the Pentagon said Wednesday as it rolled out a $527 billion budget for fiscal 2014 starting Oct 1.

The budget provides $4.6 billion in support of re-balancing toward the Asia-Pacific, indicating a $843 million increase over the previous year.

“US military engagements in the Asia-Pacific region complement these efforts with investments in presence operations, posture, partner capacity building and defence diplomacy,” the Pentagon said.

Key enhancements or protected investments in FY 2014 include “deepening our defence cooperation with India; and strengthening our military-to-military relationship with China”, it said.

“The US is also investing in a long-term strategic partnership with India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region,” the Pentagon said.

President Barack Obama’s November 2011 trip to the region and statements by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton underscore the strategic importance of the region to US national interest as well as the diplomatic and economic efforts that form an important component of US leadership there, it said.

US armed forces “will have a global presence that emphasizes the Asia-Pacific and Middle East, while still ensuring our ability to maintain our defence commitments to Europe and strengthening alliance and partnerships across all region”, the Pentagon said.

US defence efforts in the Middle East will be aimed at countering violent extremists and destabilizing threats as well as upholding commitments to allies and partner states, it said.

“For much of the past decade, the defence department has focused on fighting terrorism and countering violent insurgencies, and it will continue to do so as long as these threats exist,” the Pentagon said.

But as “the world has changed”, Pentagon’s new defence strategy “creates a smaller, lighter, more agile, flexible joint force to conduct a full range of military activities necessary to defend US national interests.

“More change is taking place as US economic and security interests are inextricably linked to developments extending from the western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean region and South Asia,” it said.

“Accordingly, while the US military will continue to be central to ensuring global security, we will of necessity rebalance forces and funding priorities toward the Asia-Pacific region,” Pentagon said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])