India and US agreed “in principal” to a logistics exchange agreement to enable both militaries to use each others assets and bases for repair and repleshment of supplies.
Here are 10 things you should know about this agreement.
1. Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)–
LEMOA is a tweaked version of Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) which facilitates the provision of logistical support, supplies and services between the US military and the armed forces of partner countries.
American aircraft and warships will soon be able to access Indian military bases and vice versa for refuelling, repair and other logistical purposes.
2. Shift from the policy of the UPA regime
LEMOA is a shift from the policy of the UPA regime. Then defence minister A K Antony, backed by the Left and others, had opposed the three foundational pacts: Logistics Support Agreement, Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA). These were done on grounds that they would “compromise” India’s traditional strategic autonomy and give “basing rights” to the US military in the country.
3. No stationing of US troops on Indian soil —
Manohar Parrikar and his US counterpart Ashton Carter stressed that Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) did not entail stationing of any US troops on Indian soil, even as officials added that India will not extend support in the event of any US military action against “friendly countries”.
“We can refuse access to our bases whenever we want,” said an official.
4. No military alliance against China —
Top Indian officials clarified that the “reciprocal” logistics pact was just meant to facilitate military cooperation and not aimed at forging any sort of a military alliance against China.
5. Boost to Delhi-Washington military ties —
The US is the largest arms supplier to India over last 4 years. The US has bagged Indian arms contracts worth over $14 billion since 2007 and more are in pipeline.
India and the US hold several military exercises every year. IAF fighters and aircraft are on way for Red Flag exercise in Alaska from April 28.
6. Collaboration on carrier —
India and US are also advancing collaboration in aircraft carrier design and technology, potentially the biggest joint project since they launched a Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) in 2012.
India, which operates a re-tooled Russian-built carrier, plans to build its biggest indigenous carrier, for which is it looking at US technology to launch heavier aircraft.
“We have decided to take forward discussions under DTTI more aggressively on key areas such as jet engine technology. We will also continue our very useful and productive discussions on cooperation … on aircraft carriers,” Parrikar said.
7. Boost to US’s ‘Asia pivot’ —
US has increasingly turned its focus to Asia as it tries to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, and is eager for India to play a greater role in its network of regional defence alliances. A senior US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said China was “operating more frequently both throughout Southeast Asia and in the Indian Ocean”, something both Washington and New Delhi were “watching closely”.
8. Maritime security cooperation —
India and the US will also further bolster maritime security cooperation, which will include stepping up the complexity of its combat exercises and talks on anti-submarine warfare, but there are no plans for joint naval patrols in the contentious South China Sea or elsewhere. “India has not changed its stand (on joint patrols),” defence minister Manohar Parrikar said.
9. Boost to ‘Make in India’ —
India, the world’s biggest arms importer, wants access to US technology so it can develop sophisticated weapons at home – a key part of PM Modi’s “Make in India” campaign to boost domestic manufacturing.
US defence secretary Ashton Carter also held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Tuesday as part of his three-day visit, aimed at shoring up security and defence ties with regional power India.
10. Indian Ocean —
India and US will work closely together in the Indian Ocean. Indian forces rarely operate far away from their shores but access to US bases in Djibouti and Diego Garcia could be useful.