Review of 2+2 India-US Ministerial Dialogues: The 2+2 India-US ministerial dialogue held on an annual basis is a diplomatic summit that reflects the shared commitment by leaders of world’s largest democracies to provide a positive, forward-looking vision for the India-US strategic partnership and to promote synergy in their diplomatic and security efforts.
The inaugural India-United States Ministerial Dialogue, September 6, 2018 in New Delhi reaffirmed the strategic importance of India’s designation as a Major Defence Partner (MDP) of the United States and committed to expand the scope of India’s MDP status. India was granted license-free exports, re-exports, and transfers under the License Exception Strategic Trade Authorization. India and the US signed a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) which facilitates interoperability between militaries and sale of high-end technology. The summit resulted in both sides beginning negotiations for the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) which would allow US defense firms to sell military equipment to Indian partners.
IFC-IOR for Maritime Safety and Security
The Second India-United States Ministerial Dialogue, December 18, 2019 in Washington DC resulted in both countries signing the ISA which allowed one-hundred and fourteen fighter jets to be sold to India. Both countries negotiated the final details of signing the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geo-spatial Cooperation agreement. India-US military cooperation was exemplified by the first bilateral tri-service amphibious military exercise- TIGER TRIUMPH. Indian and US Navies participated in MALABAR exercise demonstrating the continued high level of operability. Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) under leadership of India was established to advance Maritime Safety and Security in the Indian Ocean Region; by enhancing maritime domain awareness and coordinating activities, through information sharing, cooperation and expertise development; along with partner nations and agencies.
The inaugural India-United States Ministerial Dialogue, September 6, 2018 in New Delhi reaffirmed the strategic importance of India’s designation as a Major Defence Partner (MDP) of the United States and committed to expand the scope of India’s MDP status
Enhancing Indo-US Industrial Complex
The Third India-United States Ministerial Dialogue, October 27, 2020 in New Delhi heralded the significant step of the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). In the follow up to the second summit, Liaison officers of Indian and US Navies were positioned at NAVCENT, Bahrain and IFC-IOR respectively. The Royal Australian Navy was included in the US-India-Japan MALABAR Naval Exercise. The Tri-Services Amphibious TIGER TRIUMPH HADR Exercise and Army Exercises YUDH ABHYAS and VAJRA PRAHAR were to be convened in 2021. Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) was initiative to further develop their defence industries with intention to identify, develop and fast track joint projects on basis of standard operating procedures. The Indian Defence Innovation Organization (DIO-iDEX) and US Defence Innovation United (DIU) met to discuss issues and trends in creating innovation hubs and boosting startups eco system.
The Fourth India-United States Ministerial Dialogue, April 11, 2022 in Washington DC reaffirmed their commitments for building an advanced and comprehensive defence partnership in which the US and Indian militaries coordinate closely together across all domains. Both countries acknowledged the importance of deepening collaboration in science and technology in the India-US Joint Technical Group (JTG), and in evolving new defence domains, including space, artificial intelligence (AI), and cyber. Inaugural Defence Space Dialogue and second Defence Cyber dialogue was held. Also, Indo-Pacific Military Health Exchange took place to discuss challenges and solutions to military medical issues with experts from 38 member countries. India joined the Combined Maritime Forces Task Force as an Associate Partner to expand multilateral cooperation in the Indian Ocean. A project agreement to co-develop Air-Launched UAVs was initiated under the auspices of the India-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). Other projects on the anvil are counter-unmanned aerial systems (UAS) system and an Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) platform.
The Third India-United States Ministerial Dialogue, October 27, 2020 in New Delhi heralded the significant step of the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). In the follow up to the second summit, Liaison officers of Indian and US Navies were positioned at NAVCENT, Bahrain and IFC-IOR respectively
The Fifth India-United States 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, New Delhi, 2023 deepened the multifaceted defence partnership and accelerated joint projects initiated under the June 2023 Roadmap for India-US Defence Industrial Cooperation and expanded collaboration in emerging domains, such as space and artificial intelligence. Negotiations commenced on a commercial agreement between General Electric (GE) Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture GE F-414 jet engines in India. Both countries recommitted to spurring investment in India’s growing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector, which encompasses aircraft maintenance and mid-voyage repair of US naval vessels. The Investors Strategy Session was convened for private investors to mobilize capital for funding innovation in cutting-edge technology to address critical security needs.
India and United States looked forward to the finalization of a Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA), a key priority in the roadmap, which will further integrate the defence industrial ecosystems of both countries while strengthening supply chain resilience. India-US Defence Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X), the initiative launched in June 2023, stands as enormous potential for startups of both nations to collaborate in deep tech innovations, especially in Space and Artificial Intelligence (AI) domain. INDUS-X Gurukul Education series was launched to enable startups to leverage opportunities in the defence ecosystems of both nations.
The Fifth India-United States 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, New Delhi, 2023 deepened the multifaceted defence partnership and accelerated joint projects initiated under the June 2023 Roadmap for India-US Defence Industrial Cooperation and expanded collaboration in emerging domains, such as space and artificial intelligence
The meet was a comprehensive review of bilateral relationship between two countries. It was a broad exercise in the follow up of talks held by heads of the countries earlier on issues of defense, strategic and security ties. India shared security concern over Khalistani threat to attack Air India flight with its counterpart. The discussions and sharing of perspectives were also centered on strengthening partnership in Indo-Pacific region, securitization of minerals and value supply chains, taking forward cooperation and collaboration in semi-conductor industry, health, trade, critical technologies and outer space. The troubling developments in Middle East has drawn attention for both countries in calling for cessation of conflict and seeking humanitarian pauses but falls short of calling upon the warring parties – Israel and Hamas in having a ceasefire in the region.
-The writer is Assistant Professor, Presidency School of Law, Bengaluru. Views are personal and do not reflect that of Raksha Anirveda