The Indian Army is by far the most influential in the Asia Pacific region, a top American General on Monday said as he stressed on the importance of building military-to-military relationship between the two countries. "As is in many of the Asia-Pacific countries, the army is the dominant service in those countries. India is a prime example. It is by far the largest service. It is by far the most influential," US Army Chief of Staff General Raymond T Odierno said.
"It is important for us to build army-to-army relations as we continue to re-balance the Asia- Pacific region," he told a Washington audience. Odierno recently returned from a trip to India during which he met his Indian counterpart and held a wide range of discussions with the top Indian military leadership. He also travelled to the Northern Command.
"The first comments about India, specifically, is, one of things we have to remember is, we have to make sure they maintain their own strategic autonomy. And we do things in line with them to help build capacity, help learn from each other," he said.
"One thing we realised we have so much in common, the two largest democracies in the world, we are two very professional armies, and there is much we can do to learn from each other," Odierno said in response to a question at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) - a Washington-based think tank. "We talked a lot about the way ahead in the region, the importance of operations in the region. They took me up to their northern command, which is their most important command, which is responsible for the borders of Pakistan and China," he said.
"I had the chance to meet with their staff and their commanders, and what really caught me was the fact that, what they have been doing for the past 20 years, is what we have been doing for the past 12, counter-insurgency, protecting their space, there's a lot of lessons learned that they have that we have. And so, there is a lot of knowledge that we can share," the US General said.
"So I think that will be the basis of the continued relationship, is the sharing of information about what they face on a day-to-day basis up in the Kashmir area, with Pakistan, as well with China, as you just talked about with a minor incursion not too long ago...," he said. He added that the two countries have a lot in common, in sharing lessons, in professional development, a lot in developing future leaders, a lot in understanding techniques on what they see will be potentially prominent as they deal with future problems, not only around the world, whether it be there or the Middle East, there's some commonality.