Despite reservations expressed by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the Navy is discussing the posting of officers at two U.S. global military commands. "That was at another point in time,'' said a naval officer when asked about Mr. Mukherjee's observation that "there is no question of posting officers at U.S. military commands. We have a defence attaché in Washington."
Mr. Mukherjee made the remarks soon after his visit to Washington in July this year after the Left parties criticised the signing of a framework for defence cooperation with the U.S. Though the Indo-U.S. Naval Executive Steering Group would discuss the possibility of posting officers at the two U.S. military commands, naval officers pointed out that the final call was with the Government on a number of aspects such as the location of the officers — whether at the U.S. Embassy or at the command headquarters. The postings should ensure faster coordination with the U.S., especially with the joint naval exercises getting bigger and, therefore, more complex with each successive edition.
According to navy officers, the U.S. has in principle agreed to post an officer at the Pacific Command that keeps an eye on India and other countries to its east. However, the Navy is keen on posting an officer at the U.S. military's Central Command that oversees the area west of India, comprising the bulk of geographical area of operations for the Indian Navy.
The U.S. had offered to post an observer at the Pacific Command three years ago, but the previous National Democratic Alliance Government preferred an observer at the Central Command that included Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and West Asia, a region vital to India's energy security.
The exercises would be of double benefit to India. They would not only refine its anti-piracy and anti-terrorist procedures but also expose the Navy to technological advancements in military platforms.
For instance, the participation of U.S. nuclear submarines in the two previous joint exercises gave Indian sailors "hands on experience" and now an Indian naval delegation is in Russia to receive advanced training on handling nuclear powered submarines.