Indian Army Vice-Chief Heads to US Ahead of Key Diplomatic Talks

In preparation for the upcoming 2+2 dialogue between Indian and US foreign and defense ministers, the vice-chief of the Indian Army is poised to visit the Indo-Pacific Command based in Hawaii, aiming to bolster military ties between the two nations.

Lt. Gen. SK Saini, the army’s vice-chief, will embark on his US visit from October 17 to 20, according to sources familiar with the matter.

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The 2+2 dialogue is scheduled for October 26-27 in New Delhi, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper slated to participate.

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During the visit, Saini will engage in extensive discussions with American military leaders at the US Army Pacific Command (USARPRAC), focusing on enhancing military cooperation. He will also observe US Army training and equipment capabilities, aiming to strengthen bilateral military ties.

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Additionally, Saini’s itinerary includes a visit to the Indo-Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii, where discussions will center on various aspects of military cooperation, including joint exercises, procurement, and capability-building initiatives.

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Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, India remains committed to participating in joint exercises with the US, including Yudh Abhyas in February 2021 and Vajra Prahar in March next year.

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The visit underscores efforts to deepen operational and strategic collaboration between the two armies, with a particular emphasis on ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region in alignment with a rules-based order.

The Indo-Pacific Command’s expanded focus, renamed from the Pacific Command in 2018, underscores its strategic emphasis on South Asia, particularly India, in safeguarding American interests.