Amid rift between India and the United States over the Russian arms buy, the US military renamed its Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command.
The move is crucial and many believe it to be symbolic and one that underscores the growing importance of India to the Pentagon.
US Indo-Pacific Command has about 375,000 civilian and military personnel assigned to its area of responsibility.
“In recognition of the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, today we rename the US Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command,” US Defence Secretary Mattis said.
He was speaking during a change of command ceremony.
Admiral Philip Davidson was assuming leadership of the command from Admiral Harry Harris, who is President Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to South Korea.
In 2016, the United States and India signed an agreement governing the use of each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply.
The two countries are concerned over growing assertiveness of China.>