NEW DELHI, India --
U.S. Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) commander, met with senior leaders from the U.S. and India here Dec. 14-17 to seek opportunities to enhance cooperation and partnership with the Indian air force.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work alongside nations that support a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Brown said. “As a committed partner enhancing peace, prosperity and security across the region, we are grateful for India’s support and the growing trust between our two nations.”
His first visit to the country, Brown met with Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, Indian Air Force chief of staff, Shambhu Kumaran, Indian Ministry of Defense joint secretary for planning and international cooperation, Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar, IAF Eastern Air Command, air officer commanding-in-chief, Kenneth Juster, U.S. Ambassador to India, U.S. Embassy officials and Senior Defense Attaches’ from various countries and participated in a think tank event with area scholars, journalists and regional security experts.
The general was accompanied by his wife, Sharene, who met with nonprofit and charity organizations as well as schools to share perspectives and gain insight on quality of life initiatives and developmental programs.
Brown showcased the command’s priorities of being “ready, resilient and postured for the future,” emphasizing how the relationship with India plays a critical role due in part to shared values, interests and perspectives in the region.
“The U.S.-India partnership has never been stronger,” Brown said. “Our shared values, security interests, economic ties and close links between our people presents significant opportunities for cooperation bilaterally and with other close partners and allies in the region.”
Discussions throughout the visit focused on opportunities to cooperate further in areas of Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response, frequency and complexity of bilateral exercises, interoperability and knowledge exchanges, professional military education and the status of recent strategic agreements – the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement.
“There are a number of opportunities where our relationship can grow,” Brown said, “We look to not only strengthen the base of the partnership, but to also take it to the next level in certain areas…longer term investments in relationships, in training and in schooling.”
Discussions also reflected on recent integration with the U.S. and other regional partners at exercises like Pitch Black in Australia in August 2018, observing Red Flag Alaska in October of 2018 with an opportunity to participate in 2020; observing Operation Christmas Drop, the U.S. Department of Defense’s longest running multilateral humanitarian mission out of Guam, and participation in the PACAF-hosted Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium in Fall of 2019. Dhanoa served as the “dean” among 18 nations represented at the inaugural symposium in 2017, the largest gathering of air chiefs to date, representing 700,000 airmen across the region.
The visit also offered the opportunity to participate in the closing day of Cope India at Kalaikunda Air Station. The two week bi-lateral exercise scenarios included fighter, mobility, and command and control aircraft that grew in complexity culminating in a large force employment event. In addition to providing remarks at the ceremony, Brown met with U.S. and Indian airmen and received a familiarization flight in a Mirage 2000.
“Cope India was a tremendous success for our two nations,” Brown said, adding that it is just “one part of an ongoing effort to strengthen the relationship.”
Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis hosted Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to the Pentagon, stating that “The U.S.-India relationship is a natural partnership between the world’s oldest and the world’s largest democracies.” Sitharaman also visited Indo-Pacific Command to visit with leadership from across the island.
The designation of India as a major defense partner in 2016 is a reflection of the increasing strategic importance of the U.S.-India security relationship and the significant progress both countries have made in advancing defense cooperation.