From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : CAATSA, COMCASA, LEMOA , BECA
Mains level : India-US relations as a response to China
India and the United States have signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which, along with the two agreements signed earlier — the LEMOA and the COMCASA.
Try this question for mains:
Q. What is the troika of “foundational pacts” of India with the US? Discuss each of them. (150W)
Completing the troika
- The two agreements signed earlier are— the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA).
- This completes a troika of “foundational pacts” for deep military cooperation between the two countries.
What is BECA?
- BECA will help India get real-time access to American geospatial intelligence that will enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.
- Through the sharing of information on maps and satellite images, it will help India access topographical and aeronautical data, and advanced products that will aid in navigation and targeting.
Benefits of BECA
- This could be a key to Air Force-to-Air Force cooperation between India and the US.
- BECA will provide Indian military systems with a high-quality GPS to navigate missiles with real-time intelligence to precisely target the adversary.
- Besides the sailing of ships, flying off aircraft, fighting of wars, and location of targets, geospatial intelligence is also critical to the response to natural disasters.
What was the LEMOA about?
- LEMOA was the first of the three pacts to be signed in August 2016.
- LEMOA allows the militaries of the US and India to replenish from each other’s bases, and access supplies, spare parts and services from each other’s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
- LEMOA is extremely useful for India-US Navy-to-Navy cooperation since the two countries are cooperating closely in the Indo-Pacific.
Concretizing the mutual trust
- The critical element that underpins LEMOA is mutual trust.
- Without trust, no country will be willing to expose its military and strategic assets such as warships to the facilities of another country.
- The signing of LEMOA was in itself an affirmation of the mutual trust between the two militaries, and its application will enhance the trust.
- It took almost a decade to negotiate LEMOA, and the exercise in a sense bridged the trust deficit between India and the US and paved the way for the other two foundational pacts.
What about the COMCASA?
- COMCASA was signed in September 2018, after the first 2+2 dialogue during Mrs. Swarajs’ term as EAM.
- The pact allows the US to provide India with its encrypted communications equipment and systems so that Indian and US military commanders, and the aircraft and ships of the two countries, can communicate through secure networks during times of both peace and war.
- The signing of COMCASA paved the way for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India to facilitate “interoperability” between their forces.
Specific context and practical benefit for India
- The strengthening of the mechanisms of cooperation between the two militaries must be seen in the context of an increasingly aggressive China.
- Amid the ongoing standoff on the LAC in Ladakh — the longest and most serious in three decades — India and the US intensified under-the-radar intelligence and military cooperation at an unprecedented level.
- These conversations facilitated information-sharing between the two countries, including the sharing of high-end satellite images, telephone intercepts, and data on Chinese troops and weapons deployment along the LAC.
- Such agreements mark the enhancement of mutual trust and a commitment to the long-term strategic relationship.
- The US wants India to move away from Russian equipment and platforms, as it feels this may expose its technology and information to Moscow.
- So far, India is going ahead with the purchase of the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia, and this has been a sticking point for American interlocutors.
- For its part, India is wary of Pakistan’s deep-rooted ties with the Pentagon, and Washington’s dependence on Rawalpindi for access to Afghanistan as well as its exit strategy.
- But, because of the clear and present danger from China, New Delhi’s strategic embrace of Washington is the obvious outcome.