India and the United States have been militarily courting for the past two years, following a prolonged freeze in defense diplomacy and U.S. sanctions after India’s nuclear-weapons testing in 1998 . U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has recently returned from a three-day visit to India, his second trip this year. Mr. Carter discussed logistical requirements for U.S. Naval vessels in the region, digital mapping protocols, communications procedures, and the possibility of – someday – opening the framework for a military alliance.
India is not set to join any U.S. led maritime patrols in the South China Sea, despite a premature U.S. announcement India would in February. Fearing Chinese reprisals, India issued a sharp denial of any claim that their navy would patrol the South China Sea. Their concerns are valid, as China has a rising historical trend for claiming bordering lands; leaving India disturbed by their territorial dispute with China, which resulted in a 1962 war over a portion of the Himalayas. China’s, People’s Liberation Army Navy have also begun to maneuver freely throughout the Indian Ocean.
India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been seeking innovative ways to improve national defense without provoking China. The Chinese are the bold and unchallenged regional cynosure of power; boasting a gross-domestic-product, five times that of India. China’s national security policy sees India being boxed in and isolated as the PRC courts the various governments sitting on the sub-continents borders.
In fact, the current agreement reached with India through Secretary Carter was rephrased to demonstrate India’s resistance to seeming too comfortable with America. The agreement was reworded in order to not give an impression that India has deviated too far from the historical norm, a policy of non-alignment with super-powers, in this case, the United States.