Defense Secretary Ash Carter is currently in India meeting with key government officials and focusing his discussions on demonstrating progress on the India-U.S. defense relationship since President Barack Obama’s January 2015 visit.
A significant portion of Dr. Carter’s visit will include a renewal of the 10-year India-U.S. Defense Framework Agreement; the identification of specific areas for deepened maritime security (MARSEC) cooperation; and discussions on a “Knowledge Partnership in Defense Studies.” In addition, while meeting with Prime Minister Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today, Carter is expected to speak briefly about the India-U.S. Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), and highlight progress under the initiative.
The DTTI’s origins date back to 2012, when then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recognized that while defense cooperation between India and the U.S. is a strategic priority for both of our nations, the pace and scope of cooperation on defense technology and trade had historically been impeded by cumbersome bureaucratic processes. As such, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Carter was tasked to undertake an initiative jointly with Indian counterparts to provide increased senior-level leadership and engagement to get beyond such obstacles. Carter’s efforts, along with India’s then-National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, laid the ground work for what is now referred to as the DTTI.
Through senior-level leadership and engagement, the DTTI helps reduce bureaucratic impediments, promotes collaborative technology exchange, and enables co-development and co-production of select defense systems −- expanding India-U.S. business ties and strengthening India’s defense industrial base, in turn developing India’s role as a regional security provider. For the United States, the initiative is led by the third ranking official in the U.S. Defense Department, the Defense Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Mr. Frank Kendall. For the government of India, the DTTI is led by Secretary (Defence Production) Ashok Kumar Gupta. In addition, there is a joint DTTI Interagency Task Force co-chaired by Director of International Cooperation for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Mr. Keith Webster and Deputy Chief of the Integration Defense Staff for Perspective Planning and Force Development, Lt. Gen. A. K. Ahuja. The U.S. Department of Defense has also established the “India Rapid Reaction Cell” focused exclusively on advancing the DTTI.
The DTTI Interagency Task Force has made tangible progress on the commitment by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi in January 2015 for the U.S. and India to pursue mutually agreed upon DTTI pathfinder projects, named as such because they serve as a means to work out process bugs and learn best practices in co-development and co-production of defense articles, while also being of significant inherent value. The administration intends for these pathfinders to lead to deeper levels of cooperation between businesses, militaries, and people.
To date, the U.S. and India have completed negotiations for project agreements to implement the first phase of two government-to-government pathfinder projects: Mobile Electric Hybrid Power Sources (MEHPS), which can mitigate the heavy burden of logistics resupply that our expeditionary services face, and Next Generation Protective Ensembles (NGPE), which would enable our services to operate in chemical and biological environments with no or minimal degradation in performance. The project agreements are currently undergoing respective national processes for approval.
In addition, India and the U.S. are in the process of identifying other cooperative pathfinder projects focused on jet engines, aircraft carrier construction, and unmanned aerial vehicles. This is a significant step forward for the DTTI and an important example of the deepening Indian and U.S. defense relationship.
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