April 2016 brought a most remarkable trip to India by a US Secretary of Defense in recent memory. Ashton Carter is the most well-versed SECDEF we’ve seen on matters related to India, as the videos below will show. On a substantive level, the two sides talked about surprisingly advanced levels of technology sharing, weapons co-production, and logistical cooperation. These types of discussions never happened before. Washington is clearly trying to push further than New Delhi seems comfortable with, and Carter stands out for remaining assertive, yet understanding and patient through it all in recognition of India’s lively internal political processes.
The USS Blue Ridge docked in Indian harbors in time for Carter’s arrival. Early in the trip Carter gave a speech to the sailors and marines aboard the 7th fleet’s command ship, focused on why the United States was working so closely with India on security issues. The most memorable part was when Carter told them, “Our militaries grew up separately, our technologies grew up separately… now when we want them to work together, we have to try to get the gears to match up, and that’s not automatic; we have to work on it…that’s why I’m here, that’s why you’re here, but it’s a winning hand we’re playing out here… remember, when you look back, in the years ahead, and say ‘I remember that, I was part of the beginning of that’ – you will, I promise you, in the future be thinking exactly that.”
The following clips show Carter visiting Old Goa, including a temple and a church, guided by Parrikar who was formerly Chief Minister of that state.
The following two interviews on NDTV show that Carter is very much in his depth while talking of the US-India relationship, and many other subjects.
Carter was also in attendance at a repatriation ceremony for the remains of World War II KIA, finally unearthed in recent days in Arunachal Pradesh.
Thank you, Mahanth, for pointing out that “Carter was also in attendance at a repatriation ceremony for the remains of World War II KIA, finally unearthed in recent days in Arunachal Pradesh.” Unfortunately, many in the media are giving credit to the Modi Government for this repatriation where none is due. For more than a year, the Modi Government didn’t even once criticize the previous Manmohan Singh Government for imposing a virtual moratorium on MIA recoveries in Arunachal Pradesh in late 2009. When the Modi Government finally lifted the moratorium in September 2015, it did so only in response to the families’ heated criticism of its perpetuation of the Manmohan Singh moratorium, and didn’t even bother to issue a press release about lifting the moratorium, apparently out of fear of angering the Chinese, which claim Arunachal. Even then, the Modi Government forced an early termination of the Hot as Hell crash site recovery operation after only 35 days, leaving at least 6 of the 8 dead crewmen of that plane behind. Later, when the Modi Government turned over the remains to the US Government in April 2016, the Modi Government violated protocol by (1) not sending Defense Minister Parrikar to the ceremony, attended by his counterpart Secretary of Defense Carter, (2) not sending the Minister of External Affairs or the Foreign Secretary to the ceremony, and (3) not providing an Indian military honor guard for the ceremony. The Modi Government has also not apologized to the families of the missing for the many years India violated their legally recognized rights under the Geneva Conventions to their loved ones’ remains. Many of these airmen’s relatives died while waiting for India to get around to honoring those rights: one of them was my own aunt, Ethyle Wolfe, the widow of my uncle 1st Lt. Irwin Zaetz, whose remains may still lie at his Arunachal crash site due to India’s apathy and neglect. Gary Zaetz, Founder and Chairman, Families and Supporters of America’s Arunachal Missing in Action