In a symbolic not towards India, US’ Pentagon has renamed its oldest and largest military command – Pacific Command as Indo-Pacific Command; reflecting the significance of the Indian Ocean in US strategic thinking.

On Wednesday, the United States announced that it has renamed its strategically significant Pacific Command (PACOM) and made it the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. This move from the Pentagon is seen as a gesture to reflect the State’s keenness towards India as a key partner for its global strategic planning. While renaming, the Defense Secretary James N Mattis said that the relationship with the US’s allies in Pacific and Indian Ocean have “proven critical to maintaining regional stability”; however, it is mainly aimed to affirm the US’ stand for India amid the raw of new sanctions.

The US Pacific Command, which is a primary combatant command of the US Military is responsible for watching and engaging with about half of the globe and is spread across its diversities. This move is significant, especially when the US is repeatedly speaking against China’s advancements in the Pacific Ocean as well as the Asian subcontinent. Stressing over US’ stand for India, US Admiral Philip Davidson has said that the relationship between India and the US was possibly a historic opportunity that he intended to pursue quite rigorously.

However, it must be noted that the name change of a US Military Command is largely symbolic for now, and won’t immediately result in any shifts in the command’s boundaries or assets across the vast area stretching from the western part of India to America’s Pacific coastline. Henceforth, additional American assets will not be sent to the Pacific currently, but rather it is to recognize and support India’s increasing military relevance for the United States. But, just renaming a military command cannot be seen to improve effectiveness of an Indo-Pacific defence and security strategy. The US-India military and defence cooperation still depends on the level of discussion and India’s decision on which side to pick. Because it can either be Kremlin or the White House – both cannot exist at once.

2002