The National Defense Authorization Act 2017(NDAA 2017) was signed by President Obama on December 23, 2017. and is a significant milestone in the US - India defense relations.
The summary of the Act states that the Secretaries of Defense and State should jointly work to:
- Recognize India's status as a primary defense partner of the United States
- Designate a senior individual within the Administration to reinforce the Framework and help resolve outstanding issues
- Approve and facilitate technology transfer
- Strengthen the effectiveness of the Defense Trade Technology and the India Rapid Reaction Cell
- Jointly develop security measures; streamline defense sales and exports to India
- Encourage government and commercial military transactions; support the alignment of export control and procurement regimes
- Enhance defense and security cooperation
The Act also states that the Secretary of Defense should strengthen military-to-military engagement between the US and India, including soliciting and recognizing efforts by India that would allow the US to treat India as a major defense partner.
NDAA requires that the Secretaries of Defense and State assess India's capabilities to act as a partner with the US, and requires the President to ensure that the assessment is used both to inform the review of defense export requests and to inform any regulatory and policy adjustments that may be appropriate.
The role of USISC
It took USISCouncil more than two years of diligent research, hard work and expenses to accomplish this endeavor which is financed by Indian Americans. USISCouncil Board Members met in person India's Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, next the India's National Security Advisor Mr. Ajit Doval, and finally with India's Prime Minister Modi. We received their input and tacit approval that they liked our idea of improving and enhancing US-India Defense relationship. Even though the bureaucracies of India and USA were skeptical, we initiated our campaign in full fledge. We hired Washington's most powerful lobbyists. Mr. Thomas McCarthy of Akin Gump researched and drafted the first document that has become the foundation of the language and now part of the law in the National Defense Authorization Act, (NDAA) 2017.
Next, with the help of K&L Gates we have approached every Congressman and Senator and/or their senior staff members of US Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees and presented National Security and Trade interests of the United States and convinced them of the importance and benefits of enhancing US-India Defense and Trade relationship.
In essence, these leaders believed in our idea and pushed us to continue:
1. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
2. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
3. Sen. John McCain, Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee
4. Senator Jack Reed, Ranking Member, Armed Services Committee
5. Congressman Mac Thornberry, Chairman, House Armed Services Committee
6. Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee
7. Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee
Senator McCain strongly believed in our ideas and the importance of elevated Defense partnership between USA and India. He took it upon himself to become the leader and pushed the bill forward and he laid out a plan how he wanted to achieve and he actually did accomplish what he promised.
Our many thanks to Sen. John McCain. We all need to thank him personally for his successful leadership. We enclose here, for your complete understanding, 1) the actual bill just passed in the Conference Committee,
This Act accomplishes some important goals related to strengthening the US-India strategic relationship.
First, it advances the Framework and sets forth specific follow-up measures for the US to take.
Second, it gives the weight of law (and of the US Congress) to the Framework's key elements. In the process, it also helps ensure that the pro-partnership momentum continues beyond the current presidency and into the new one next year.
Third, it creates an opportunity to streamline US export control requirements related to India.
The next critical step needed will be for India and the US to work to remove the impediments of the US Export Control Laws, to streamline the US-India strategic relationship beyond what the NDAA's language permits.
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