By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (April 07, 2016) -- Gen. Dalbir Singh, who serves as chief of staff of India's army, arrived in Washington, D.C., Thursday, to meet with Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley and other members of the Army staff here to discuss, among other things, further development of relations between the two armies.
While details of their discussions were private, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, speaking earlier this week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, confirmed America's desire to further develop its relationship with India.
Gen. Dalbir Singh, chief of staff of India's army and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley salute during an official welcoming ceremony for Singh, April 7, 2016, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.
Carter said the U.S. and India share much in common, including similar geopolitical and geostrategic interests. "We're looking to do ... more with India," he said. Included in that is more military-to-military engagements, and also more partnerships to develop defensive technology. "They don't want to just be a buyer. They want to be a co-developer and co-producer. They want that kind of relationship."
Thursday morning, as Milley and Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick J. Murphy were on Capitol Hill, Singh laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. During the ceremonial event, Singh was accompanied by Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel B. Allyn and Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Becker, commander of the Military District of Washington.
Following the wreath ceremony, Becker spoke briefly on the "tremendously important" relationship between the United States and India, and said visits like Singh's as well as enhanced and continued military-to-military training exercises are key to furthering the relationship.
"Our focus on the Pacific and Asia/Pacific is very important to our country, and India is a tremendously important partner," Becker said. "There are many opportunities for us to partner with them in situations like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and that's what we're looking forward to."
Later in the afternoon, Milley officially welcomed Singh to the nation's capital and to the Pentagon with a "full honor arrival" ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Afterward, Singh attended an office call with Milley in the Pentagon.
Singh's visit to the United States is not unusual. U.S. Army chiefs of staff both invite their counterparts from partner nations to visit the United States, and also accept invitations to visit partner nations. Additionally, ground forces commanders such as Milley and Singh meet during land forces conferences around the world.
In September, for instance, Milley met with chiefs of staff from partner nation armies at the 9th Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference, as well as the 39th Pacific Armies Management Seminar in Denpasar, Indonesia. In October, Milley was in Europe to meet with counterparts of European armies at the 23rd Annual Conference of European Armies in Wiesbaden, Germany.
"These types of events are another way to build relationships with allies, so the first time you meet somebody is not during a crisis," said a spokesperson for the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army.
While in Washington, Singh was also scheduled to spend time meeting with other members of the Army staff inside the Pentagon, said an official with the Army Foreign Liaison Office, part of G-2.
Singh was invited by Milley to tour the U.S. Army inside the United States, but began his visit in New York City at the United Nations, the G-2 official said. Afterward, Singh traveled southbound to Tampa, Florida, where he visited with leadership at both U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command.
Singh then traveled across the United States to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to meet with Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander of I Corps, which is regionally aligned with U.S. Pacific Command. As part of that regional alignment, I Corps has been working to further develop its relationship with the Indian Army.
"I Corps has benefited from USARPAC's growing relationship with the Indian Army," said Lanza. "Our Soldiers routinely conduct military-to-military engagements which achieve consistent progress and builds readiness in both forces. Exercises such as Yudh Ahbyas and Varja PRAHAR foremost build personal relationships and trust with our partners which then makes for a more professional force in both armies. We have a lot of experiences to share and more opportunities for partnership will benefit our two countries as well as the Indo-Asia-Pacific region."