Australia should lead in creating a strong partnership with India that complements our core alliance with the United States, according to a new report written by David Brewster for the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.

Brewster says that to foster cooperation between the three countries in the Indian Ocean, Australia should offer combined defence training opportunities in Darwin, consider sharing facilities in the Cocos Islands with India and continue to press for a high level trilateral dialogue including India and the United States.

"Australia's relationship to India has been under-considered, especially when compared to debates around China," he says.

"In future years, India may become one of Australia’s most important strategic partners in the region. Australia must play an active role in moulding a new dynamic and promoting India's regional role as a complement to the United States."

Key recommendations:

  • Australia should promote a high level trilateral security dialogue with India and the United States
  • Australia should work with India, the United States and others to build a shared system of maritime surveillance covering Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. This could include shared access to facilities such as Australia’s Cocos Islands.
  • Australia should encourage India to use training facilities in northern Australia as one way of promoting greater interoperability.  

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David Brewster, a senior research fellow at the National Security College at the Australian National University, is available for interview.