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Meeting of the India-US Defense Policy Group

Washington, DC
August 7, 2003

The India-US Defense Policy Group (DPG) met in Washington on August 6-7, 2003. This was the 5th meeting of the DPG and the 3rd meeting since December 2001. The DPG was headed on the Indian side by Defense Secretary, Shri Ajay Prasad, and from the US side by the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Mr. Douglas Feith. In addition to the meeting of the DPG, Mr. Ajay Prasad also called on the US Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Richard Lee Armitage and General Richard Myers, Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff of the US. Secretary of Defense, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld also dropped in at the meeting of the DPG where he spoke of the strategic significance of India and the value of closer India-US defense relations.

The DPG is the apex body for a structured dialogue with the United States for cooperation in the field of defense and security issues. It reviews, provides policy guidance and approves activities of the various bilateral groups under the DPG dealing with military to military cooperation, defense acquisitions, production etc. and cooperation in the sphere of research and development. The DPG also provides a forum for high-level policy dialogue on security perspectives. It brings to the table a large number of components of defense establishments of both countries.

It is a matter of satisfaction, and an indication of the rapid growth and promise of India-US defense relations, that this was the third meeting of the DPG in less than two years. It reflects the convergence of security perceptions in many areas and a commitment of both sides to enhancing cooperation in the area of defense.

The 5th meeting of the DPG took place in a very cordial and cooperative atmosphere. The progress of military to military cooperation since the last DPG was reviewed. Satisfaction was expressed on the various bilateral exercises involving US and Indian forces in 2002 and 2003 such as the airborne joint exercises in Agra in May 2002 and in Alaska in September-October 2002, the joint air transport exercise in Agra in October, 2002, naval exercises in September/October, 2002, peace keeping command post exercise in Delhi in April, 2003 and special forces joint counter insurgency exercises in April, 2003. Similar combined exercises of greater complexity and sophistication were agreed on for the next 2-3 years. These exercises have been providing experience and insights into concepts, doctrines, technologies and operating procedures that have been valuable for the Indian armed forces.

There is also a growing defense supplies and research and development relationship. The first batch of Weapons Locating Radars have already arrived and there is progress on India’s request for Special Forces equipment as well as a Deep Submersible Rescue Vehicle, as indeed in many other areas. The backlog on the issue of export licenses for defense equipment is now largely overcome and the nascent procurement relationship has begun to progress smoothly. New proposals were exchanged to develop a defense technology relationship to include production, research and development and if possible in due course, joint development. A Master Information Exchange Agreement to facilitate information exchange on research and development was initialed by the two principals, Mr. Prasad and Mr. Feith.