By Sumit Kumar Singh
New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) Pakistan-based terror groups and Chinese aggression will be the focus of India-US security cooperation in the years to come, according to a study by a US-based think tank.
“Much of the engagement is presumed to focus on shared counterterrorism interests, particularly the operations of transnational terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, and Pakistan-based groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, and information exchanges regarding Chinese threats,” stated a study carried out by US think tank Brookings Institution.
The alignment of US and Indian interests on these two principal subjects, together with a pattern of reciprocal exchange, has served to build trust in recent years, the report stated.
It stated that the US should review the state of its intelligence sharing with India, with an aim to identify opportunities to further institutionalise cooperation.
US-India intelligence cooperation has matured significantly over the last decade. Currently, US issues intelligence and warning notices under the “duty to warn” mandate, alerting India of possible terrorist activities or other major threats.
So far there is an existing mechanism between both the countries — US-India Counter Terrorism Joint Working Group and Designations Dialogue — which brings together the analytic, operational, and legal experts on both sides.
To deepen intelligence sharing with India in ways that are mutually advantageous, both the countries have to adopt “reciprocity”.
“Reciprocity is at the heart of sustainable and structured intelligence exchanges, and by regularising bilateral coordination focused on filling collection gaps, both countries could lay the foundation for more meaningful exchanges,” the report stated.
The report stated that the first step for new administration led by President Joe Biden should be to review its internal collection priorities to ensure, for example, that the National Intelligence Priorities Framework (NIPF) managed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is adequately focused on the kinds of threats that China is increasingly posing to US and Indian interests in the region.
It also pointed out that it is unclear what has become of the bilateral Strategic Intelligence Dialogue (SID), which once served as a forum for high-level analytic exchange. Given these institutional changes, ensuring that coordination on both collection and strategic-level analysis is on a strong footing should be a priority for the new administration.
With respect to substantive matters, there are indeed opportunities for deepened coordination on both of the principal topics of mutual interest: terrorism issues, and Chinese activities in the region.
With respect to China, public reporting suggests that the US has been proactive in offering intelligence support to India to help it manage the recent border crises. The signing of the BECA, a broad framework agreement, enables both parties to establish more specific arrangements related to sharing classified and controlled unclassified information.
The exchange of sensitive maritime information on subjects such as Chinese submarine transit in the Indian Ocean, and geospatial data pertaining to the disposition of Chinese forces along the Sino-Indian border, are two natural areas on which to pursue such arrangements, the report said.
(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])