US Senate Approves Bill to Enhance Indo-American Military Alliance
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With a view to developing logistical support, threat analysis, force planning, military intelligence and analysis, the US Senate members have unanimously approved the move to strengthen military alliance with India.  After receiving an overwhelming support of 85 against 13 votes, the amendment titled “to authorise military-to-military exchanges with India” was agreed as part of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017, which the Senate passed early this week.

The $716 defence bill will allow India to buy more advanced and sensitive technologies from America, at par with those of its closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation in the future, strengthening the military ties.

Objective

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The Bill seeks to grow US influence in the Indo-Pacific region and promote free and open markets based on international rules through a multi-faceted policy framework, a move that could strengthen India-US partnership in the Indo-Pacific region to counterbalance China’s moves.

“This initiative is a generational approach that will put American interests first by reassuring our allies, deterring our adversaries and securing US leadership in the region for future generations,” said Senator Cory Gardner, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy while introducing the legislation.

“This legislation continues our reform agenda and helps better position the Department of Defence and the joint force to implement the National Defence Strategy by continuing to restore readiness, rebuild capacity and modernise capabilities,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, John McCain, said.

Allocation of Funds

The legislation would include substantive US resource commitments, including the authorization of $1.5 billion annually for five years, to enhance the US presence in the Indo-Pacific, and $150 million yearly for five years for democracy, rule of law and civil society support, according to sources familiar with the details.

The Senate version of the bill authorises $5.2 billion for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund, $350 million in Coalition Support Funds to reimburse certain nations for support provided to, or in connection with US military operations, and authorises $300 million to train and equip the vetted Syrian opposition to counter the ISIS terror group.

The Senate bill authorises $500 million for US-Israel missile defence cooperation and upto $50 million for US-Israel counter-tunnel cooperation.

Impact

“We believe that with this bipartisan vision for our Asia policy, the administration and Congress can be united on implementing a long-term strategy that will benefit American national security interests, promote American businesses and create jobs through trade opportunities and project American values of respect for the human rights and freedom that have made America the shining city upon a hill,” Sen. Gardner said.

Sen. Markey said on April 24 that rules-based international order would be “absolutely fundamental to global peace and security” in Asia. “This legislation reflects the region’s importance by addressing key challenges, including the peaceful denuclearization of North Korea, prioritizing reasonable and effective non-proliferation policies, promoting the freedom of navigation and over-flight in maritime Asia, and defending human rights and the respect for democratic values,” Sen. Markey explained.

“This important piece of legislation will do just that by creating a framework for the US policy throughout the Indo-Pacific region on several key areas including trade, promotion of human rights, counterterrorism programs and many other national security priorities,” Senator Rubio said, adding, “To ensure the arc of history bends toward a free and open Indo-Pacific, regional democracies will have to cooperate more, which is precisely what this legislation aims to foster.”

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