US think tank for closer India-US security cooperation

Washington, Aug 6 (IANS) Given "India's growing strategic importance, coupled with gaps in its homeland security enterprise," an American think tank has suggested closer cooperation and coordination between India and the US to advance security interests of both.

"The challenges facing the Indian transportation sector may be numerous, yet they are not insurmountable," the Centre for Strategic & International Studies said in a newly released report as part of its US-India Defence and Security Cooperation Project.

Entitled "US-India Homeland Security Cooperation: Building a Lasting Partnership via Transportation Sector Security," the report highlights "considerable opportunities for government- to- government and business-to-business cooperation, as well as for unique public- private partnership opportunities and joint ventures."

"Enhanced US- India cooperation could result in significant progress toward a more secure and prosperous India, allowing the continued development of the rail, aviation, and maritime sectors," it said.

"By leveraging opportunities, the United States and India could chart a course in which India's transportation infrastructure is secure enough to handle the growing demands of a vibrant, dynamic economy," the report said.

Benefits of cooperation extend far beyond a single sector, it said suggesting "the shared experience of working together on transportation security may pave the way for expanded US-India cooperation across a variety of homeland security and other issues."

Lessons learned from the transportation sector could likely be applicable to securing major cities, borders, and other critical areas, the report said.

"Perhaps more importantly, cooperation on transportation security could serve as an engagement framework for governments, agencies, and even private sector partners," it said.

A focus on tangible areas of cooperation, particularly those involving technology, training and education, and information sharing, will enable the United States and India to enhance transportation sector security, the report said.

As bolstering India's technological capabilities could profoundly affect their capacity to provide transportation security, the report suggested that India and the US States can share best practices,

But the report cautioned that "Investment in the appropriate safety and security technologies that aim to enhance India's counterterrorism capabilities will only be successful if there is equal investment in human capital via training and education."

The report also suggested establishing a knowledge exchange programme between the US departments of transportation and homeland security, the private sector, and their corresponding Indian partners and enhanced information sharing between various government agencies and even private industry.

"As partners in security and prosperity, the United States and India should jointly work to realise their goals, collaborating with and learning from one another in order to foster greater homeland security in both nations," it said

"With a solid focus on shared interests, India and the United States are facing a remarkable opportunity to create a strategic and tactical partnership" to provide for greater long- term security and achieve marked progress in homeland security and counterterrorism, the report said.

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