Tuesday, Apr 09, 2002
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By Sandeep Dikshit
For the first time, the National Defence University (NDU) of the U.S. and the Delhi-based Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) are evolving an institutionalised mechanism to keep in touch. An IDSA team led by its director, K. Santhanam, is already in the U.S. to draw up a blueprint for regular interaction and exchange of information.
The Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (CIDS), Pankaj Joshi, is in the U.S. to work out ways to integrate the three armed services into a unified command and control mechanism. Such an experiment had become crucial after India became a nuclear weapon State after May 1998. After the Kargil experience, Indian security planners also felt the need to integrate the Army, Navy and the Air Force.
Lt. Gen. Joshi would be drawing upon the U.S. experiment of unified commands. Indian defence strategists are aware that the U.S. model would have to be modified considerably to adapt it to the vastly different conditions prevailing here. In this connection, the CIDS, who will be the number two in military hierarchy after the unified command is set up, is understood to have interacted extensively with senior Pentagon officials as well as leading members of American think-tanks.
Lt. Gen. Joshi is aware that the process of integrating the three services will be as painful as was in the U.S. Already, the Indian defence establishment's sole integrated theatre command in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is experiencing teething troubles.
Closer ties between the Indian and the U.S. militaries gathered steam after the September 11 attacks. As a first step, the Defence Policy Group (DOG), headed by top civilians of both Defence Ministries, was revived. This was followed by service-level interaction under the aegis of three executive steering groups (ESG).
While the Army and naval ESGs met in New Delhi and Chennai, respectively, the Air Force ESG interacted extensively in Hawaii. The U.S. is also keen on re-establishing itself as a reliable supplier of defence equipment after a three-decade hiatus.
Both countries have done the initial spadework in this direction by approving the signing of General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) which entails a formal acknowledgement not to leak confidential information about each other's military hardware and expertise to other countries.
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