What’s in India-US defence deals

Defence Deals

Approx Read Time: 3 min
Defence Deals
Defence Deals

In News:

  • India and the US are preparing for the third 2+2 ministerial meeting between the two countries.
  • One of the items on the agenda will be the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) — a pact which will lay the foundation for deeper military cooperation.

About “2+2” dialogue:

  • In foreign policy parleys, ‘Two plus Two’ is the term used for the institutionalisation of a dialogue mechanism between two countries consisting of the key ministries of defence & external affairs.
  • The ‘2+2’ dialogue between India and US is a meeting between the India Ministers for External Affairs and Defence, and the US Secretaries of State and Defense.
  • This “2+2” dialogue was meant to replace the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue between the foreign and commerce ministers of the two countries that was held during the previous Obama administration.
  • It is to focus on strengthening strategic, security and defence cooperation between the two countries.
  • The shared priorities include job creation, improving the business and investment climate and sustaining a rules-based global order.
  • The U.S. has strategic consultations in this format with key partners and allies including Australia, Japan and the Philippines.

About: Foundational agreements for military cooperation with the US

  • There are three foundational pacts (sometimes the names differ with different countries), that US considers essential for deeper military cooperation with any country.
    • The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)
    • The Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA)
    • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA)
  • They are meant to build basic ground work and promote interoperability between militaries by creating common standards and systems.
  • They also guide sale and transfer of high-end technologies.
Explained Simply:
  • LEMOA means one partner trusts the other enough to expose its valuable assets.
  • COMCASA means one is confident that it can rely on encrypted systems to connect the two militaries.
  • BECA means it can share highly classified information in real time without fear of being compromised.
  • All this signals the level of trust that has developed between the two countries and their militaries.
India-US agreements:
  • India and US have already signed LEMOA in 2016 and COMCASA in 2018.
  • The two countries are expected to sign BECA in 2020.

About: BECA

  • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) largely pertains to geospatial intelligence, and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence. 
  • Anyone who sails a ship, flies an aircraft, fights wars, locates targets, responds to natural disasters, or even navigates with a cellphone relies on geospatial intelligence.
  • Benefits:
    • Signing BECA will allow India to use the US’s advanced geospatial intelligence and access topographical and aeronautical data and products that will aid navigation and targeting.
    • BECA will provide Indian military systems with high-quality data, and help enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.
  • The agreement could be key for Air Force-to-Air Force cooperation between India and US.

About: COMCASA

  • COMCASA stands for Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement.
  • It is one of the foundational agreements that the U.S. signs with allies and close partners to facilitate interoperability between militaries and sale of high end technology.
  • Benefits:
    • It allows the US to provide India with its encrypted communications equipment and systems so that Indian and US military commanders, aircraft and ships can communicate through secure networks in peace and war.
      • Without these specialised encrypted communications systems, military platforms like the C-17, C-130 and P-8Is procured from the US need to use commercially available communication systems.
    • COMCASA paved the way for transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India to facilitate interoperability between their forces
    • It also facilitates access to advanced defence systems (that US does not permit to those countries without this agreement).

About LEMOA

  • LEMOA stands for Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
  • It is an India-specific version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which the US has with several countries with which it has close military to military cooperation.
  • The pact gives both countries secured access to designated military facilities on either side for refuelling and replenishment, with supplies, spare parts, services etc.
  • The agreement between US and India will primarily cover four areas:
    1. Port calls
    2. Joint exercises
    3. Training and humanitarian assistance
    4. Disaster relief
  • Benefits:
    • As use of another country’s base could expose one’s military assets to the host, LEMOA is required to enhance trust between the two countries. 
    • Under the new agreement, a mechanism will also be instituted for book-keeping and payments and officials, who will act as nodal points of contact, will be designated on both sides. This will smoothen the process to settle payments for various goods and services provided by one to another.
    • This is especially useful for Navy-to-Navy cooperation, since the US and India are cooperating closely in the Indo-Pacific.

Also Read: FDI blooms in COVID-19 gloom

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