Washington: For the second time in less than a fortnight, top American intelligence officials have claimed that India is building up its armed forces focused at China's perceived aggressive posture in the Asia-Pacific region.
"The military situation along the contested border is quiet. However, India is concerned over Chinese logistical improvements and is taking steps to improve its own capabilities," Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency Ronald L Burgess said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"India is raising additional ground forces, is improving logistical capacity, and has based advanced fighter aircraft opposite China," Mr Burgess told lawmakers.
India, he said, conducts periodic tests of its nuclear- capable missiles to enhance and verify its ballistic missile reliability and capabilities.
"India's current delivery systems include nuclear-capable fighter aircraft and ballistic missiles, and India claims it is developing a nuclear-capable 6,000 kilometre-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that will carry multiple warheads. India intends to test this," he said.
China and India resumed military-to-military engagement in mid-2011, held their first strategic economic dialogue in September, and discussed their longstanding border dispute in November, he told lawmakers.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who for the first time made similar remarks less than a fortnight ago, reiterated it before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"Despite public statements intended to downplay tensions between India and China, we judge that India is increasingly concerned about China's posture along their disputed border and Beijing's perceived aggressive posture in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific region," he said in his prepared testimony.
"The Indian Army believes a major Sino-Indian conflict is not imminent, but the Indian military is strengthening its forces in preparation to fight a limited conflict along the disputed border, and is working to balance Chinese power projection in the Indian Ocean. India has expressed support for a strong US military posture in East Asia and US engagement in Asia," Mr Clapper said.
Mr Burgess said India considers regional stability a prerequisite for maintaining its continued economic growth.
New Delhi views economic growth coupled with a strong military as essential for gaining recognition as a global power, he said.
"Domestic political issues such as unemployment, inflation, and several high-level corruption scandals continue to dominate New Delhi's attention. Senior Indian leaders also remain concerned about the country's Maoist-inspired insurgency, terrorism, and the security situation in Kashmir, although the latter saw a marked decline in violence compared to 2010. While India continues to carefully monitor events in Pakistan, China is also viewed as a long-term challenge," the Pentagon official said.
"In 2011, India continued efforts to increase economic and military engagement with countries in East and Southeast Asia. India and Japan agreed to conduct a bilateral naval exercise, their first since 2008; India and Vietnam pledged to increase naval training; and the India-South. Korea relationship continues to progress following the Indian Defense Minister's late 2010 visit," he said.
The military situation along the contested border is quiet. However, India is concerned over Chinese logistical improvements and is taking steps to improve its own capabilities.
India is raising additional ground forces, is improving logistical capacity, and has based advanced fighter aircraft opposite China, he added.
Story first published:
February 17, 2012 14:44 IST