US Naval Chief of Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday, on Tuesday kicked off his 5-day visit to India by meeting his Indian counterpart Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and other senior government officials.
Gilday’s trip comes amid the second phase of the Malabar exercise – being held in the Bay of Bengal among navies of India, US, Japan and Australia.
Asked about what the US intends to do to counter China’s aggressive modernisation of its Navy, Gilday said they will not try to outspend it, but partners like India in the region will be the key to ensure that the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is stable. Given the importance of the region, 60 per cent of US Navy’s forces are now in the Indo-Pacific, he said.
He is scheduled to visit the Western Naval Command (at Mumbai) and Eastern Naval Command (at Visakhapatnam) during his trip, and will also embark on the USN Carrier Strike Group led by USS Carl Vinson, which is participating in the Malabar Exercise. He will be accompanied by an Indian delegation.
“For me this is a natural partnership between US and India. Two high-tech democracies with mutual interests. Whether that’s free and open maritime commons, regional stability, economic stability, respect for international institutions and rule of law, and our pushback on global authoritarianism and any threat to the above. India and US have a long healthy positive relationship,” Gilday said.
“Our navies continue cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to sustain an inclusive and free and open rules-based order, that’s actually the cornerstone of peaceful and secure Indo-Pacific.”