US to advance defence partnership with India to contain China

Published November 1, 2022
This file photo shows US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin. — AFP/File
This file photo shows US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: The United States will advance its major defence partnership with India to enhance its ability to deter China’s aggression and ensure free and open access to the Indian Ocean region, says a new US defence strategy launched over the weekend.

“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) remains our most consequential strategic competitor for the coming decades,” US Defence Secretary Lloyd J. Austin wrote in his introductory note for the US National Defence Strategy 2022.

This release follows the publication of the US National Security Strategy 2022, which marked China as America’s main rival in today’s world.

The defence strategy, however, is more explicit on India’s role in containing China and promises to work with New Delhi to thwart China’s alleged campaigns to “establish control over its disputed land borders” with India.

The new strategy quotes US President Joe Biden as saying that China is “the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order, and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do so.”

Secretary Austin also mentions Russia in his note, saying that the United States will maintain collaboration with its Nato allies and partners to “reinforce robust deterrence in the face of Russian aggression” in Ukraine.

Also read: US warns of threat posed by China, signs military pact with India

Noting that China “poses pacing challenge,” the strategy points out that recent events “underscore the acute threat posed by Russia” as well. The strategy claims that Russia is “contemptuous of its neighbors’ independence” and “seeks to use force to impose border changes and to reimpose an imperial sphere of influence.”

“Russia presents serious, continuing risks in key areas, including nuclear and long-range missiles threats,” the US national defence strategy warns. The paper also mentions “cyber and information operations; counterspace threats; chemical and biological weapons (CBW); undersea warfare; and extensive gray zone campaigns targeted against democracies in particular.”

The document notes that the relationship between China and Russia continues to incr­e­ase in breadth and “either state could seek to create dilemmas globally … in the event of US engagement in a crisis or a conflict.”

The 2022 defence strategy sets forth how the US military will meet growing threats to vital US interests and directs the Department of Defence to “act urgently to sustain and strengthen US deterrence, with China as its pacing challenge.”

The document stresses the need to continue to “right-size forward military presence in the Middle East following the mission transition in Afghanistan” and to continue its “by, with, and through” approach in Iraq and Syria.

The strategy pledges to “deny Iran a nuclear weapon and to identify and support action against Iran­ian and Iranian-backed threats.”

Iran is also mentioned in US efforts to disrupt top-tier violent extremist organisations (VEO) that endanger the homeland and vital US national interests.

The Pentagon pledges to prioritize cooperation with US regional and global partners to “deter and defend against potential aggression from Iran.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2022

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