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“During the past 5 years, India has showcased itself as a global leader”: US Director of Defence

The nation also embarked on a path of military modernisation and reduced its reliance on Russian equipment; these efforts were praised

India stood tall in 2023, showcasing its global leadership prowess by boldly confronting China’s activities in the Indo-Pacific region. The nation also embarked on a path of military modernization and reduced its reliance on Russian equipment; these efforts were praised. Lieutenant General Jeffrey Kruse, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency made these comments during a Congressional hearing focused on defense intelligence efforts against China.

While addressing the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on intelligence and special operations, Lt. Gen. Kruse talked about India’s significant presence on the world stage, particularly evident during its hosting of the Group of 20 economic summit and showed more resilience in confronting the People’s Republic of China’s  (PRP) actions in the Indo-Pacific region.

Lt. Gen. Kruse stated ,“During the past year, India has showcased itself as a global leader by hosting the Group of 20 economic summit and demonstrated a greater willingness to counter PRC (People’s Republic of China) activity throughout the Indo-Pacific region,”

“India as global leader has not only modernized its military capabilities but has also fostered stronger partnerships with Indo-Pacific nations including the Philippines, the US, Australia, France, and Japan,” he added.

China controls  the majority of the South China Sea, while countries like The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of this maritime region. India benefits from strategic advantages by building strong partnerships with nations like the Philippines in the Indo-Pacific region, especially concerning issues in the South China Sea.

These partnerships include training, selling defense equipment, and enhancing collaboration with important allies such as the US, Australia, France, and Japan. This strategy boosts India’s influence and presence in the area, promoting stability and securing maritime routes.

global leader
Image: Times of India

In 2023, India as global leader initiated its military modernization process so as to be comparable with China and become less dependent on the Russian made system. The country achieved its first sea trials for its locally built Aircraft carrier and got deep into negotiations with western nations for technology transfers, Kruse noted in his address.

He pointed out that like many other projects these are a part of their broader plan to improve the capability of their military in order to prevent China from gaining excessive influence. Notwithstanding the variety of talks the border problem remains the most serious issue which limits their relations, and as a result, both sides usually deploy large numbers of troops along their border.

Lt. Gen. Kruse further stated ,“India has maintained its neutral stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia remains India’s most substantial defense partner and New Delhi continues to acquire weapons from Moscow, such as the S-400 surface-to-air missile system, despite New Delhi’s desire to diversify its defense acquisition partnerships,” 

In 2024, New Delhi is expected to prioritize securing its national parliamentary elections, sustaining economic growth, and furthering its “Make in India” initiative as part of its military modernization strategy aimed at countering Beijing, as he informed the lawmakers.

The briefing also delved into the persistent tensions between India and China, originating from the tragic Galwan clash in 2020,which resulted in the loss of 20 Indian soldiers and at least five People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers.

Kruse also touched on a recent friction in October 2023, during which officers holding the highest rank in Indian and PLA groups could not reach an accord on the two remaining standoff places in eastern Ladakh at their 20th discussion. Kruse told the congressmen that about 50,000-60,000 soldiers are currently deployed on both sides of the border and this is complemented with the reinforcement of the military infrastructure on the border.

Besides India’s strategic strategies, Lt Gen Kruse mentioned Pakistan’s defense landscape heightening the country’s nuclear capabilities while at the same time facing economic problems as well as rampant terrorist attacks. He also underscored the agreeable but shaky ceasefire with India across the Line of Control from the beginning of 2021.

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