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IAF chief, US discuss setting up Indian space, cyber commands

By Lalit K Jha
July 30, 2013 16:02 IST
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India and the United States discussed a host of issues, including the security situation in South Asia, East China Sea, anti-piracy operations and America's help in developing two new commands -- space and cyber, during a recent visit of Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne in Washington.

Commander of US Pacific Air Forces and Air Component Commander General Herbert Carlisle said the "relationship is great with the Indian Air Force." Describing Browne as his "good friend", Carlisle said during the Indian air chief's last week's four-day US visit they talked about a variety of things and regional issues.

"The other things that he talked about that the Indian Air Force, the Indian military is trying to develop a space command on the military side, because right now almost everything that is done in India in space is on the civilian and commercial side," Carlisle said.

"They are trying to develop an Indian military space capability, as well as cyber capability," he added.

Browne went to Colorado to meet the space command, during which he was briefed on how the US Space Command works, the organisational structure, technologies available, and the lessons that the US has learned from its experiences, Carlisle said, adding the two forces are likely to do "subject matter" exchanges with experts in this field in the near future.

They also talked about the security situation in south Asia and what the two forces can do as partners to continue to work in that region.

"It is everything from west side, piracy going into Maldives, to the east side what happening in the ast China Sea and how we can continue to maintain security and stability in the region. We had very good discussion," Carlisle said.

Responding to a question, Carlisle said, "China was very much discussed" during Browne's America visit. "I think, every nation in the Asia Pacific region has relationship with PRC (People's Republic of China) and we have to be cognisant about. We talked about their issues and commonality with the PRC, they have border issues, but they also have trade," he said.

"We talked about the fact that the US-China relationship is so important to the entire region. I heard that in Singapore, when I was there, I head from the Indian Air Chief that you hear everywhere you go, how the United States and PRC manage and build their relationship which is critical to the entire region. He reiterated that.

"And again I think, the fact that every nation has a complex and many times challenging relationships. It is important that we US stay cognizant to the challenges that those nations face in dealing with the PRC," Carlisle said, adding that they had "very good discussions."

"We did not talk much about Afghanistan. We talked a little about his concerns. I think many nations there are concerned with what it looks like post 2014 and of course, the proximity of the border gives him (the IAF chief) concerns with potential for terrorism and other things," he said.

As such Browne spent time in Colorado talking to General Charles Jacoby, Commander of US Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defence Command about security and homeland defence and some of the things "potential if things went bad" in Afghanistan.

Carlisle said the Asia Pacific region is a priority area for the United States. "Expanding engagement is one of the prime tenants of our strategy," he said in response to a question.  Carlisle also extended "an apology" for cancelling the Red Flag exercise due to sequestration -- or automatic budgetary cuts in the American armed forces.

"We did make a commitment about having Red Flag next year this time and they (Indians) are going to participate," Carlisle said in response to a question, during a Defence Writers Group breakfast meeting.

"The sequestration had an impact wherein we had to cancel the Red Flag (exercise). Actually the Indian Air Force was going to bring Su-30 and participate in it," he said.

Carlisle described as how Browne had worked hard to get permission from the Indian Government to have IAF Su-30 participate in this exercise, which was scheduled to be held at the Nellis Air Force base in Nevada this July.

During this exercise, IAF was scheduled to send a team of its top- line Su 30 MKI fighters along with support aircraft for the war game and spend more than Rs 100 crore.

During his visit, Browne also picked up the second C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft, which is being inducted into the IAF which forms part of its major component of its modernisation effort.

In fact, Browne "flew C-17 (from Long Beach in California) to Washington through Colorado," he said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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