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What is the Indo-Pacific Strategy?

The US Indo-pacific strategy is the US new strategy since last five years across the Indian and Pacific Ocean with the objective of maintaining peace and stability in the region, ensuring freedom of navigation and protection of US and her allies in the region. Its undeclared objective is also to balance the rising and asserting China in the region.

The strategy has three important tools to achieve above objectives:

  1. Bolstering the US Naval presence presence in the region. The U.S. has renamed her Pacific command as US Indo-Pacific Command(USINDOPACOM) on 30 May 2018, in recognition of the strategic partnership between India and the US across the Indo-Pacific region. It was earlier known as known as United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) since its inception in 1947.
  2. Cultivating strategic partnership with US allies in the region like India, Japan, Australia, South Korea and Vietnam. The idea of Quad and trilateral Malabar maritime exercise (India. US and Japan) is also part of this strategy. India and the US have also signed a joint vision for strategic partnership in the Indo=-pacific region. The US has similar understanding with other countries in the region.
  3. Addressing the emerging threats for freedom of navigation in the region. The US naval forces are countering Chinese assertiveness and force building in the South China Sea through her ‘freedom of navigation drills’.

In a way the US Indo-pacific strategy is a modified and expanded vertsion of Obama’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ or ‘Asia Rebalancing’ strategy announced in 2012, which was also aimed at countering Chinese strategic influence in the region. Under this strategy, the US will deploy 60 percent of her marine forces in the Pacific region.

The new element in the present strategy is the idea of Indo-Pacific which links strategic positions of two Oceans. Earlier Indian Oceans and the Pacific Oceans were recognized as the two separate strategic domain, with the US mainly interested in the Pacific Ocean and India mainly involved in the Indian Ocean. In the present context, the term Indo-Pacific was first used by an Indian defence analyst Gurpreet Khurana, in an article published in January 2007 with reference to cooperation between India (Indian Ocean) and Japan (pacific Ocean). Australia gave the official recognition to this term in 2013 policy paper. Later the US picked this term in view of her developing partnership with India and named her new strategy as the US Indo-Pacific Strategy. India as well as Indian Ocean have important role in this strategy.

Current Affairs 2020

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