The Indian and United States navies should go beyond "exercises" and look to expanding the relationship to enchance inter-operability for providing security, US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Gary Roughead has said.
Praising the "professionalism" of the Indian Navy, the admiral, who arives in India next week, said both navies should not "simply be thinking in terms of this exercise or that exercise but as two very capable navies. How do we operate in the region? What are some of our shared objectives and interests that we have? How should our leadership interact and what should our agenda be?"
The admiral who emphasised inter-operability as the "most important priority" between the two navies, said his discussions with the Indian naval brass in New Delhi would include sharing of technology and policy. He may also talk about arms procurement by the Indian Navy.
"The first thing is how do we make sure we are able to share information from both a technical and also a policy point of view. It is from that sharing of information that opens up the opportunities to work in areas such as maritime security. Before you can do any type of operation you really have to have a common understanding," he told PTI.
Making the point that such sharing of information should not be limited to just the time of joint operations, he said it should be such "that our navies operate in a way, are equipped in a way that when we come to operate it is always automatic."
"I don't see the challenges. I see the opportunities. So the opportunity to come together, to be able to work together, to work with other nations in the region in a reinforcing way I think is so very important," Admiral Roughead said, adding, "I believe the interest that the Indian Navy has expressed in some of the procurements recently can only add to that."
He said he would look at ways to raise the level and complexities of activities between both forces.
The admiral who recalled his boyhood days in Mumbai said his visit was also a "good opportunity" to meet with the leadership of the Indian Navy. "I have had several occasions to meet with the leadership -- Admiral (Arun) Prakash visited Hawaii last year and it was my honour to be able to spend sometime with them. We talked on several issues and then in the intervening months I have been to several conferences where the navy leadership was represented."