WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Ash Carter leaves Saturday for a two-week visit that will take him to India, the Philippines and through the Gulf region.
The visit has a dual purpose: to bolster partnerships in the Pacific, and then to discuss the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group, commonly known as ISIS or ISIL.
First in the Asia-Pacific, in both India and the Philippines, Secretary Carter will advance the United States growing security where we are developing new partnerships and modernizing long-standing alliances.
In India, Carter will visit both Goa and Delhi as a gust of Indian Minister of Defence at the host of Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar.
While there, he will meet with Parrikar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss "the progress we have made together in aircraft carrier, jet fighter, and jet engine collaboration," Carter said in remarks at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York on Friday. "And we will talk about exciting new projects, the details of which I cannot go into this afternoon, but stay tuned for when I'm with Minister Parrikar."
Under the aegis of the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTT), a 2012 agreement between the US and India focused on sharing technology, the Pentagon has worked on development programs with its Indian counterparts. India is focused on securing advanced engine technology for its proposed homegrown Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). The military is also discussing the Pentagon's electro-magnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) for the proposed Indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vishal.
During Carter's last trip to India, the two nations also agreed to co-development on a chemical-biological protective suit and portable field generators, two small "pathfinder" programs that the research arms of the two governments would develop together.
After India, Carter will visit the Philippines, where the US is currently taking part in the BALIKATAN bilateral exercise. The exercise involves over 7,000, dozens of American aircraft, vehicles, and vessels, including an aircraft carrier, and will feature a simulated "gas and oil platform recovery raid in the South China Sea," Carter said.
The secretary also said the Pentagon has "just released" the first tranche of funding from the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative, a five-year, $425 million program announced by Carter at last year's Shangri-La Dialogue to help bolster the capabilities of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Carter said "nearly 80" percent of that money is going to the Philippines to help "modernize the technology and train staff at the Philippines National Coast Watch Center, enhance an information network to enable the sharing of classified communications between U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii and key Philippines maritime command centers, provide an aerostat reconnaissance platform, and outfit Philippine navy patrol vessels with better sensors so they can see and do more in the region's waters."
After his swing through the Pacific, Carter will stop in the Gulf for meetings in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. In Riyadh, Carter is scheduled to talk at a defense ministerial with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, hosted by Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman.
"While there, the nations will be "reviewing and discussing the way ahead for the Counter-ISIL campaign and joint regional defense initiatives that we all committed to during the 2015 U.S.-GCC Camp David Summit last May," according to Peter Cook, Pentagon spokesman.