What is Nato+? US Congress Panel Proposes Adding India in Select Group of Global Defense Partners

US lawmakers once again moved legislation seeking Nato-like status to India this week. The House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the US and the Chinese Communist Party said India should be accorded with membership in a select group of American allies, which is called NATO+5.

"The US should strengthen the NATO Plus arrangement to include India," the committee said in a report titled "Ten for Taiwan policy recommendations to preserve peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait".

NATO Wikipedia

What is Nato+?

The Nato alliance, which was launched in 1949 with 12 founding members, currently has 31 members. Apart from the 31 full members of Nato, countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan and South Korea are members of a wider group called Nato+.

All these countries have a formal defense partnership with the US, but India does not have that status. However, India was given New Delhi the status of a 'Major Defence Partner' under the Strategic Trade Authorization 1 (STA-1) category.

The House panel said India is a key partner as the US braces for a tough showdown with China. The panel also sought more economic sanctions against China. "Economic sanctions will be most effective if key allies such as G7, NATO, NATO+5, and Quad members join, and negotiating a joint response and broadcasting this message publicly has the added benefit of enhancing deterrence," the report said.

India's 70th Independence Day
An Indian security commando leaves the historic Red Fort in front of an Indian national flag after the full-dress rehearsal for India's Independence Day celebrations in Delhi, India Reuters

Focus on China

Members of the panel said increasing strategic partnership with India is a key element of the strategy to take on China. "Winning the strategic competition with the Chinese Communist Party and ensuring the security of Taiwan demands the US strengthen ties to our allies and security partners, including India ... Including India in NATO Plus security arrangements would build upon the US and India's close partnership to strengthen global security and deter the aggression of the CCP across the Indo-Pacific region," said Raja Krishnamoorthi, a ranking Democrat on the panel, according to IANS.

Indian Army band with ASEAN flag bearer contingent passes through the Rajpath
Indian Army band with ASEAN flag bearer contingent passes through the Rajpath, on the occasion of the 69th Republic Day Parade 2018, in New Delhi on January 26, 2018. PIB

The panel also called for deploying more longer-range missiles and unmanned vehicles in the Indo-Pacific region. The report also calls for giving training to Taiwanese military, giving them more weapons and shielding US infrastructure from Chinese cyberattacks.

Right now, India is one of the top customers of US military hardware. New Delhi, which used to stay neutral during the Cold War years, is now more aligned with the US in strategic and military affairs. While Pakistan used to get more US support in earlier years, the balance has shifted in India's favor more recently.