India and US sign key agreement: LEMOA supports defence cooperation between the countries

India and the United States signed a key agreement — the LEMOA — on Tuesday during Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's three-day visit to the country

FP Staff August 31, 2016 15:00:01 IST
India and US sign key agreement: LEMOA supports defence cooperation between the countries

India and the United States signed a key pact — the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) — on Tuesday during Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's three-day visit to the country. Though both the countries clarified that it will not involve in setting up of military bases, the agreement is believed to strengthen defence cooperation between the countries.

The agreement facilitates logistical support, supplies, and services between the US and Indian militaries on a reimbursable basis, and provides a framework to govern them. Logistical items and services related to food, water, billeting, transportation, petroleum, oils, lubricants, clothing, medical services, spare parts and components, repair and maintenance services and training services are some of the components of the agreement.

India and US sign key agreement LEMOA supports defence cooperation between the countries

Indian Defence Manohar Parrikar and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter during a joint conference at the Pentagon on Monday. PTI

"The LEMOA doesn't have anything to do with the setting up of base. It's basically logistics support to each other's fleet, like supply of fuel, supply of many other things which are required for joint operations, humanitarian assistance and many other relief operations. It will ensure that both navies can be supportive of each other in the joint venture operations we do, exercises we do," said Parrikar, according to PTI. He had added the agreement would make it easier for the armed forces in the both the countries to carry out joint activities, such as training and exercises, as well as High Availability Disaster Recovery (HADR) missions.

A statement released by the Ministry of Defence said, "Reciprocal logistic support would be used exclusively during authorised port visits, joint exercises, joint training, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts...." It further stated that: "The Agreement will significantly enhance the operational capacity of the Indian Armed Forces, including in their response to humanitarian crises or disaster relief."

The agreement is viewed as part of the US President Barack Obama administration's Pivot to Asia strategy, according to IANS. "The US is reaching west in President Obama's rebalance, India is reaching east in Modi's Act East policy, which will extend India's reach further into the broader Indo-Asia-Pacific region," said US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.

Carter said the agreement will be a "very substantial enabler" for the two countries to work together.

According to The Indian Express, the LEMOA, which has been tailor-made for India, and is a modified version of US Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which allows the armed forces of the both countries to share logistical services. The report added that though the US has signed LSA with 60 other countries, it was amended on India's insistence.

The agreement will not only give both the countries access to military facilities, but will facilitate sharing technical know-how, reported The Hindu. The report added that both the countries have to set up "nodal points of contacts" and a process to keep track of "book-keeping and payments".

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties criticised the move, and with the Left parties claiming that it makes India formally an ally of the US. Though strategic expert and director of society for policy studies C Uday Bhaskar allayed fears that the deal will not make India a military ally, reported IANS.

Chinese state-run daily, The Global Times in an editorial said, "If India hastily joins the US alliance system, it may irritate China, Pakistan or even Russia. It may not make India feel safer, but will bring strategic troubles to itself and make itself a centre of geopolitical rivalries in Asia."

Though the US has been pushing the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA); Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geospatial Intelligence, Parrikar indicated that India is not in a hurry to sign these agreements.

The CISMOA permits secure communications interoperability between partners during bilateral and multinational training exercises and operations, whereas ECA allows for no-cost exchange of unclassified and controlled unclassified geospatial products, data, and services between India and the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Under this, partner governments agree to the exchange of topographical, nautical, and aeronautical data and products.

Firstpost's Prakash Nanda writes: "The LEMOA is a firm indication that the US wants to be a partner in increasing the operational outreach of Indian armed forces and that it regards India as "a rising power and a responsible global power", something China will never do." 

With inputs from agencies

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