Ambassador Verma’s Remarks at Assocham’s 8th International Security Summit: Securing the Nation

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Good afternoon and thank you for having me here.  I’m very happy to share the dais with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Assocham officials, and guests from the private sector.  I see many familiar faces in the audience – I spoke at Assocham’s 7th annual security summit in August 2015 – and I’m so glad to be back.

During his testimony to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on February 9, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appropriately called “unpredictable instability” the new normal.  Violent extremism, mass migration and population displacements, extreme weather events, the spread of infectious diseases, and the new threats posed in the cyber domain create a staggering array of challenges for policymakers and security professionals alike.

In the midst of all these threats, I’m pleased to report that India and the United States are more aligned than ever before on matters of security cooperation.  Our military cooperation has never been stronger – India does more military exercises with the U.S. than with any other nation.  Last year, I went to a number of these exercises, including Yudh Abhyas and Malabar.  I also had the privilege of being aboard three different U.S. aircraft carriers with Indian naval officers, and later in April, I’m looking forward to attending Red Flag with the Indian Air Force.  We’ve moved well beyond buyer-seller in the defense procurement relationship, and are now looking at building big things in the defense space right here in India.  I did want to mention two other areas of security cooperation in particular, and those are cyber security cooperation and homeland defense cooperation, specifically joint training.

First, cybersecurity has become an increasingly important domain as the internet rapidly expands.  Today, over three billion people, more than 40 percent of the world’s population, are connected to the Internet.  India has over 400 million Internet users, the second-largest user base in the world.  And the “Internet of Things” assures us that tens of billions of new devices will be connected in the coming years.  In the United States, so much of our economic competitiveness is tied to the digital economy.  The growth and spread of the Internet brought with it economic and social benefits that has improved lives in the U.S., in India, and in almost every other corner of the world.  And with it came a new set of public policy issues and challenges that also need to be addressed.

The United States and India have committed to cooperation on the full range of cyber issues through our U.S.-India Cyber Dialogue.  The fourth annual dialogue was held last year and we look forward to continued collaboration with the Indian government and all stakeholders to create a more secure Internet to enhance online trade and commerce.  India’s announcement last summer that it supports a multi-stakeholder model of internet governance was a major step forward in our work with India in the information and communication technology arena.  As I mentioned at this conference last year, the United States looks forward to working closely with India to preserve the multi-stakeholder model, wherever it is challenged.

As part of our cyber-security dialogues, we have discussed the benefits that would come from India acceding to the Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention.  The Budapest Convention is the first international treaty that addresses Internet and computer crime by harmonizing national laws, improving legal authorities for investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations.  As a Party, India would benefit from a proven framework under which nations commit to cooperate with each other to the widest extent possible with respect to cybercrime, and any crime involving electronic evidence.

You can’t have a discussion on cyber without discussing online radicalization.  The challenges we face in countering online radicalization and recruitment are especially vexing because they give terrorist organizations opportunities to exploit national, institutional, professional, and language barriers that tend to separate us.  Last month, Home Minister Singh explained how DAESH exploits ideological motivation and floods the internet with literature about bomb making and suicide attacks.  The misuse of the internet by terrorist groups like DAESH to disseminate extremist ideologies and deceive individuals into supporting their causes is not only a matter of abstract global concern.  We will continue to explore ways we can work together to counter these divisive and dangerous messages.

Second, on homeland security cooperation, the United States and India are also increasingly aligned.  We have a bilateral homeland security dialogue that will be scheduled for later this year in Washington, but so much of our efforts have been in actual training, exercises and joint exchanges.  For example, the Department of State’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance program in New Delhi has provided fourteen courses over the past year to Law Enforcement personnel from every state in India.  This training has taken place at various police academies throughout the country and also in the United States.  Preventing Terrorism on Trains and Buses, Rural Border Police Operations, Identification and Seizure of Digital Evidence, and a Senior Crisis Management Seminar are just a small sample of the areas we are assisting in the fight against all types of terrorism.

Last November, U.S. Special Operations Forces conducted joint counter-terrorism training with the Ministry of Home Affairs National Security Guard.  The exercise, to execute counter terrorism operations against violent extremist organizations, was an important step forward for cooperation between our forces and is indicative of the deep and growing security partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense and India’s Ministry of Home Affairs.

Our U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is also actively engaged with its Indian counterparts and has a wide variety of ongoing and future training covering Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty issues, Foreign Fighters, Major Case Management, and Cybercrime Investigations.  In fact, just this week in Manesar, the FBI conducted a joint training exercise in Advanced Post-Blast Investigations with India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the National Security Guard (NSG).

The U.S. Secret Service continues to partner with Indian law enforcement through a training program to address counterfeiting of the Indian rupee.

And later this year, our Cross Border Financial Investigation Training program will be conducting specialized training, technical assistance, and exchanging best practices with India on cross-border financial investigations applicable to law enforcement, intelligence, and judicial authorities.  As you can see, we have a lot going on and are hoping to further expand our training and cooperation in the months and years ahead.

Confronting today’s security challenges will require our continued joint cooperation and leadership.  We are grateful for the strong security partnership that Prime Minister Modi and President Obama have built and strengthened, and we look forward to our continued collaboration with India on the full suite of security issues.  Thank you for having me here today and allowing me to share my thoughts on this very important topic.