In a strange sequence of events Pentagon has moved out the India-office from the iconic Pentagon House to a secondary address. The down-grade is significant particularly with regard to the timing. From being right next door to the US defence secretary, the India-office is now housed sex miles away. According to some of the insiders, the move does not make any sense if the idea is to strengthen the defence partnership and make it a crucial gateway to a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’.
In recent months Jim Mattis, the Defence Secretary of US, has been very vocal and supportive with regard to the Indo-Us defence cooperation. Mattis even tried very hard personally to shield India from the dreaded sanction law CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) by lobbying hard to provide a waiver to India. And consequently, the US Congress extended the waiver so that India will not face CAATSA sanctions for signing S-400 missile defence deal with Russia.
In recent times US-India relationship is improving under the Trump-administration. Particularly, in the defence sector chances are there, that a new era of trade and partnership, in military hard-ware and even technology transfer, shall usher in between the two biggest democracies of the world. The past misunderstandings and misconceptions about Indo-US relationship are also slowly but steadily vanishing. In this context, the Pentagon’s act of down gradation of India-office is rally unfathomable.