In a recent speech in New Delhi, the outspoken commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., was nearly poetic when he discussed the growing relationship between India and the United States, saying he was a “bit moonstruck” about the possibilities.

“In the not too distant future, American and Indian Navy vessels steaming together will become a common and welcome sight throughout Indo-Asia-Pacific waters,” he said, “as we work together to maintain freedom of the seas for all nations.”

The comments struck a chord — though, perhaps, not the note Harris wanted. Just a few days later, India’s defense minister, Manohar Parrikar, publicly rebuked him, saying India does not participate in joint patrols.

Growing concern over China and its naval activity in India’s back yard — the vast Indian Ocean — have brought the two once-distant militaries closer than ever before.