The U.S. Navy in the Indian Ocean: India’s ‘Goldilocks’ Dilemma

War on the Rocks – India’s strategic community was in a frenzy last month after USS John Paul Jones carried out a freedom of navigation exercise near India’s Lakshadweep Islands. Indian observers were mystified by the timing of maneuver, coming as it did at a moment when U.S.-Indian relations are on a high. The disquiet in New Delhi was compounded by a U.S. 7th Fleet press release that said the operation was carried out in India’s exclusive economic zone “without requesting India’s prior consent” to assert “navigational rights and freedoms”—language that many Indian observers saw as needlessly provocative.