Media Availability with Secretary Carter in New Delhi, India

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter


SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: Let me be really brief. I got to run off to see the prime minister. But the reason for my being here as secretary of defense is to follow up on the determinations of President Obama and Prime Minister Modi made about our partnership and, you know, the fact that it is reflected in the defense and national security area as it is in all the other issues that they discussed.

I've been to India on many occasions, but four times in the Defense Department over the last few years, so I know the situation and the opportunities very well. Yesterday, I went to Vizag and was the first American secretary of defense to visit an Indian operational military command. So that was very significant that I was invited to do that. This is just one more of many signs of what a positive trajectory we continue to be on with the defense community here in Indian. And in that connection, I'm going to sign in a couple hours' time, the 2015 framework, which takes a 10 year perspective. Basically sets an agenda, the principles for everything that we do with them over the next 10 years.

I'll just give you a few high points. One is -- and Vizag illustrates this, the convergence of India's Act East policy with the U.S. rebalance to the Pacific and Indian Ocean. These two things come together when it comes to maritime security, maritime domain awareness, hence my visit to the Navy base yesterday. And the other is the convergence between Prime Minister Modi's Make In India policy and the DTTI, which you all recall I began when Leon Panetta was secretary of defense.

The heart of that is to create cooperative technology and industrial relationships that are not just the buyer-seller kind. We obviously have those kind of relationships, but both we and the Indians want to move beyond that, and there's no reason why that can't occur in the sense that industry wants to do it. We're very willing to be flexible, creative, we are being that with a number of pathfinder projects. There is a legacy, a historical burden of bureaucracy in both countries, and it's a constant exercise in striping that away. And it's the burden that we carry forward from the fact that we were two separated industrial systems for so long during the Cold War. It just takes time to get the two of them together.

And this, then, is my last Asian stop on a trip that began in Honolulu, the PACOM change of command, and then Singapore then Vietnam, including Haiphong is Vietnam and Vizag here in India, so a constant sort of maritime theme and also Asia-Pacific rebalance theme.

You know, the point I was making in the Shangri La Dialogue about the "everybody wins and everybody rises" approach to the security architecture in this part of the world. That's what the United States believes in and is championing -- a vibrant Vietnam, it's eager to do more, and we're doing more with them, and India, an India that's not only rising economically and militarily but is also a regional security provider now and in the future.

So a lot going on, and I've talked enough. Questions?

Q: Let me ask you about the DTTI, since there wasn't a personal initiative that you were involved.

I guess something's finally starting to happen after three years full of frustration, I guess, on both sides, mainly because of the bureaucracy that you alluded to.

But these are pretty small research projects in terms of the amount of money at stake, and it seems to kind of pale next to some of the projects the Indians had talked about being interested, the joint aircraft engine development, that sort of thing.

Are you at all disappointed with where we are at this stage?

SEC. CARTER: No, I'm not. We're working, but we have big ambitions and jet engines, aircraft carrier technology are big projects that we're working very hard on.

And, you know, I'll remind you that we have done things like the C-130J project co-development, co-production project in Hyderabad, so it's not that everything is new.

And some of the projects that we're launching just now are in part intended to blaze a trail for things to come. And the other thing to keep in mind is that the -- the whole point is to make these industrially and economically successful projects. So they're not things that can be dictated by the governments; we try to involve industry.

And that's why when we started the DTTI, we asked our industry, U.S. industry, to make nominations for things they'd like to do with India, and then the -- the innovation there was to pre-clear them so that the discussions could begin. And -- and from the U.S. point of view, at least, they would've been preapproved.

And then it became and still is India's choice which ones they want to seize upon. But this is like the invisible hand, you know. If you want to have something that is economically as well as strategically successful, the business cases have to align. And that's why there'll always be many more in play than are consummated in a constantly evolving family of them.

So that's been going on now for several years, and I think it's good progress.

Q: Can I ask you about what's changed? (inaudible) -- five years -- (inaudible) -- and the nuclear deal, I mean, it seems like we're constantly talking about -- (inaudible) -- closure and closer ties -- (inaudible) -- and never quite getting there. Is something changed now? Is there something -- (inaudible) -- different between maybe the new government and -- (inaudible)? Can you explain a little bit about that?

SEC. CARTER: Well, I think the United States and India have been embarking on a strategic relationship since the 1990s. I mean, that's when things first began to change. So in that sense, yes, you're right. It's been going on for a long time.

But I think there are two ingredients that really give it, I think, new energy. And they are the Act East plus rebalance combination. And the second is making the DTTI connection. So that's where there's new chapters being written.

And then, you know, there are domains that are newer -- maritime domain. People are getting more aware of that. Militaries want to cooperate more in that area. Cyber, space -- we're talking about those. So those are things that were not discussed, you know, when the relationship first -- (inaudible) -- I don't know what years you were here.

But I think there is evolution and motion.

Q: And can you talk a little more -- (inaudible) -- American -- (inaudible) -- on this -- (inaudible)? Is the United States and the Navy -- (inaudible)?

SEC. CARTER: Well, I -- I think in the two senses I just named, Prime Minister Modi has made priorities in his government of things that lend themselves well to the U.S. partnership, namely Act East and Make India. And so that offers some new opportunities for us.