The Indian army last week sent a three-star general to Joint Base Lewis-McChord on a first-of-its-kind trip that could lead to increasing partnerships between the South Asian nation and military units in Washington state.
Lt. Gen. P.R. Kumar, the Indian army’s operations director, spent three days at JBLM meeting with senior Army officials and observing exercises. His visit followed President Barack Obama’s January trip to India, in which Obama observed a national military parade and pledged to collaborate with India on several initiatives.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, the senior officer at JBLM, recently told The News Tribune that the Army would like to invite its counterparts in India to participate in domestic military exercises, such as the ones that occur at the Yakima Training Center.
JBLM units have already collaborated with forces from Japan and South Korea at joint exercises in Yakima and in Southern California. JBLM last year sent infantry units to Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan for joint exercises.
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“As we’re engaging with these different countries, we’re helping build a professional military. Building that professional military contributes to good governance, which leads to stability,” Lanza said.
Normally, India sends a delegation to Army Pacific headquarters in Hawaii to plan joint exercises. This year, Army Pacific Commander Gen. Vincent Brooks chose to set the meeting in the South Sound to underscore JBLM’s responsibilities overseeing West Coast Army units that regularly partner with Asian allies.
“This is very, very significant that we’re doing it here,” Lanza said.
The Army did not invite civilian news media to cover Indian military leaders on their visit. JBLM this week released its own stories documenting the trip.
Delegates from the U.S. and Indian militaries reportedly discussed possible joint exercises, cyber security, human trafficking and environmental challenges.
“India and the U.S. have a lot of the same perspectives, which creates a strong and lasting bond,” Maj. Gen. S.K. Jha of the Indian army told a JBLM public affairs writer.