Welcoming New Era of India-U.S. Defense Cooperation

By Michael Bayer

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In June, President Joe Biden hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Republic of India for an official state visit.

This visit amplifies the work of the re-energized Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, also known as “The Quad,” comprising Australia, India, Japan and the United States, which focuses security cooperation on emerging and disruptive technology, standards setting and space.

In his speech, Biden emphasized the United States and India are making critical and emerging technologies a pillar of their relationship to ensure the technologies promote and protect shared values and remain open, accessible, trusted and secure.

Over the last several administrations, the United States has worked to deepen the partnership between Washington and New Delhi as part of the larger strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific.

The latest effort — the India-U.S. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem, or INDUS X — is focused on expanding strategic technology and defense industrial cooperation among government, businesses and academic institutions. The National Defense Industrial Association is thrilled to support these efforts and recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Society of Indian Defense Manufacturers to enhance coordination and cooperation between industrial bases.

The success of INDUS X and other security partnerships, including the Australia-United Kingdom-United States — AUKUS — trilateral security pact, is essential to democratic countries winning the ongoing technology race with the People’s Republic of China. The outcome of the technology race will fundamentally determine the access, standards and relationships governments and private citizens have with each other regarding the use and application of technology. The stakes have not been this high since the early days of the Cold War arms race. This technology race ranges from developments in hypersonics, artificial intelligence and quantum computing to undersea warfare.

NDIA has a strong tradition of working with innovative companies of all sizes and partnering with the Pentagon at many of its events and conferences, especially through its technical divisions, including the Science and Engineering Technology division, the Small Business division and the Manufacturing division. In addition, the Strategy and Policy team frequently engages with membership on the most pressing innovation policy issues of the day, including shaping acquisition practices to meet the needs of small and commercial firms, supporting streamlining processes to incorporate new technologies into complex systems and advocating to reduce current barriers that inhibit the sharing of ideas, information and skill sets between government and industry.

NDIA is also expanding efforts to attract more commercial and dual-use companies into our membership, connecting them to defense industry systems and mission expertise and opportunities to work with Pentagon officials, as well as creating better understanding of warfighting requirements. In addition, we have stepped up outreach to the private capital community, including venture capitalists, who are increasingly interested in supporting defense efforts to leverage commercial emerging technologies.

To win this technological competition, industry and government will need to continue to closely partner to ensure we are wisely investing precious resources, breaking through bureaucratic and cultural barriers and harnessing U.S. technological and manufacturing innovation to deliver cutting edge capabilities most effectively and efficiently to the nation’s warfighters at a cost acceptable to taxpayers.

With the accelerating pace of change, several years ago NDIA’s board of directors responded to calls from both membership and from the Pentagon’s leadership to increase the association’s activities to help win the ongoing technology race with China. NDIA enthusiastically embraced this call by standing up the Emerging Technologies Institute, which is designed to promote thought leadership on the most promising ways to win this competition.

In coordination with the distinguished ETI Advisory Board, the institute’s leadership has organized and led several activities exploring the key technological and policy issues facing the defense industry and the Pentagon. Their recent work has included detailed studies into hypersonics supply chains, in-depth analysis of Pentagon research budgets and exploration of the best practices to harness the power of minority-serving universities and institutions.

I encourage readers to attend some of ETI’s workshops, view its “Technology 101” webinar educational sessions, read its high-quality technical reports and listen to a few episodes of the Emerging Tech Horizons podcast. These podcast episodes dig deep into both very technical issues, such as quantum computing, and related policy issues, including key insights into budget and workforce trends.
Building off this hard work and momentum, the entire NDIA team, including ETI, is hosting its first NDIA Emerging Technologies Conference Aug. 28-30 in Washington, D.C. We are pleased the conference is being run in tight partnership with Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante.

The conference is intended to provide a forum to explore how best government and industry can partner to develop and field emerging technologies at scale. The speakers include the Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and leaders of the Defense Innovation Unit, research institutions and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

In the years ahead, NDIA seeks to ensure the conference becomes the cornerstone of NDIA-Defense Department partnership and collaboration on emerging technology. I and my fellow board members would love to get members’ feedback on how to best shape and grow this conference to continue to meet your needs and help achieve national security goals. We cannot do this without you. Join us! ND

Michael Bayer is NDIA board chair and president and CEO of Dumbarton Strategies.

Topics: International

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