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Indian Army chief leaves on four-day US visit 

The Indian Army chief's itinerary did not specify whether he would be meeting Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who has been hospitalized again, marking his third hospitalization since December

Indian Army chief leaves on four-day US visit 
[Source photo: Indian Army]

Indian Army chief General Manoj Pande left for the US this week for a four-day visit aimed to further strengthen defense cooperation and foster stronger bonds between the armies of both nations.

Pande, during his visit from 13-16 February, will engage in high-level discussions and interactions with his American counterpart General Randy George, and other senior military leaders. 

Highlights of the tour include a prestigious US Army honor guard ceremony, a solemn laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, and a comprehensive tour of the Pentagon. 

Pande’s visit to the US comes amid Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization, his third since he was diagnosed with prostate cancer last December. The Pentagon said in a statement that Austin has been admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s critical care unit for an “emergent bladder issue”. 

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks has taken over his responsibilities. 

The Indian Army chief’s itinerary did not specify whether he would be meeting the defense secretary during his visit to the Pentagon.

The itinerary includes a visit to the Army Geospatial Center at Fort Belvoir, the National Defence University at Fort McNair, and interactions with leadership at Headquarters 1 Corps. He will also engage with units at the forefront of military innovation and strategy, including the Stryker Unit, 1st Multi-Domain Task Force, the 1st Special Forces Group at Seattle, and the Defence Innovation Unit in San Francisco. 

A visit to the California National Guard is also planned, highlighting the comprehensive nature of the visit aimed at exploring avenues for more significant training, co-development, and co-production engagements.

These engagements symbolize the respect and mutual commitment towards global peace and security shared between the two countries, the Indian Army said in a statement.

Pande will also discuss different topics such as “transformation in the Indian Army,” “global threat perception,” “transformation to army-2030/2040,” “human resource challenges,” “future force development and modernization,” and “co-production & co-development initiatives” during his visit. 

These discussions are aimed at sharing insights, ideas, and best practices between the two armies, the army said. 

Earlier in September last year, General George visited India for the Indo-Pacific Army Chiefs Conference (IPACC) that was jointly hosted by the Indian Army and the US Army. The conference was attended by 18 chiefs of armies and 12 countries represented by heads of delegations.

“This visit is another milestone in the Indo-US defense relationship, reflecting a mutual desire to enhance military collaboration, exchange strategic perspectives on global threat perceptions, and work together toward future force development and modernization,” the army said in its statement. 

The engagements between General Manoj Pande and senior leadership of the United States Army are poised to yield substantive outcomes, fostering an environment conducive to shared security interests and defense cooperation, it said. 

“The Indian Army and the United States Army share a commitment to peace, democracy, and stability across regions. This tour epitomizes the shared values and interests that underpin the partnership between India and the United States, aiming at a future of enhanced cooperation and mutual development in defense and security domains,” it added.

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