South Asia and Beyond

Austin Visits Focussed On “China On Front Burner”: ‘Foreign Policy’ Pentagon Reporter Jack Detsch

New Delhi: U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd J. Austin’s visit to “three partner and ally countries (Japan, South Korea and India) is to get China on the front burner of U.S. foreign policy,” Jack Detsch, Pentagon and National Security Reporter tells StratNews Global. “When you’re turning around a ship that’s as big as the U.S. military and State Department, you’ve got to do these 15°, 20° turns,” the ‘Foreign Policy’ Reporter, who travelled to the three countries with Austin adds, saying, “for a country like India, with a history of non-aligned foreign policy, a statement like this is big and it’s going to be read by the Chinese and other powers around the world.” With the Galwan conflict, the U.S. sees a “huge opportunity to bring the Indians more into the fold, and to start looking forward when it comes to defence planning, arms sales and (logistics)base access,” Detsch tells Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi. With Secretary Austin(a retired four-star General, who headed U.S. Central Command), “you can get down to the brass tacks of what you want from the Indians, not only in buying American platforms, but also how they’re going to actually actualise the Quad process into something that will be meaningful in defence terms in the future,” Detsch says. While acknowledging “it’s not easy to push India out of its non-aligned(strategic autonomy) crouch,” the Pentagon Reporter points out, “the U.S. “would love to sell F/A-18 carrier launched fighters and MQ-9 drones…even though the Russian S-400s (air defence systems) are the major elephant in the room.” On CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) being triggered once the systems are received, Detsch says, “the question is then, would India be eligible for relief under U.S. law.”

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