Seeking a “long-term security relationship” with India, a top US military commander has said his country will support New Delhi’s “leadership role” in the Indian Ocean and South Asia.
The US Pacific Command (PACOM) “will increase its efforts to nurture the strategic partnership and expand engagement with India as well as support her leadership role in the Indian Ocean and South Asia,”PACOM Commander, Admiral Sameul J Locklear III, said in an address to the Asia Society here.
“We will improve our interoperability,” Locklear said. Referring to his maiden trip to India in October, he said he witnessed firsthand the invaluable perspective of the world’s largest democracy and one of the world’s most rapidly growing economies.
“Our two nations share and embrace the same values: a love of freedom and an entrepreneurial spirit that fuels the potential of the global economy,” he said.
Earlier in the day at a Pentagon news conference, Locklear said he has been directed by US President Barack Obama to seek a long-term relationship with India.
“I have been directed by the President to seek a – as all of the parts of our government have — long-term security relationship, a partnership with India. And that covers a lot of different areas; but in the military area, we look for opportunities to interoperate with each other,” he said.
“We are headed in that direction,” Locklear sad. “We very much support India’s military, India taking a leadership in the security issues in and around the Indian Ocean. And we are looking for opportunities to participate and interoperate with them where we can,” said Locklear, whose jurisdiction expands over the entire Asia-Pacific region.
“The Asia-Pacific has been described as stretching from ‘Hollywood to Bollywood’ and that’s really the area of my focus, from California to India. It encompasses over half the earth’s surface and well more than half of its population… the Pacific Ocean itself is the largest physical feature on the planet,” he said.
If all the world’s landmasses were placed in the Pacific, there would still be room left over for an additional Africa, Canada, United States, and Mexico, Locklear said. “So that gives you an idea of the size of it…it’s like taking a ship from San Diego to Hawaii or Norfolk to England.”