In the emerging alphabet of India-US relations, another acronym LEMOA has been added as the two countries signed a landmark logistics exchange agreement that will enable their militaries to access each other’s military supplies and refuelling capabilities through ports and military bases.
The agreement was signed in Washington DC on August 29, a day before India and the US hold their second strategic and commercial dialogue in New Delhi. The pact is a leap of faith for India as the long-negotiated pact was bogged down in apprehensions in India regarding infringement of the country’s sovereignty in the military sphere. The inking of the pact underscores the Modi government’s design to risk political pressure to deepen military and strategic ties with the world’s most powerful country.
India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his US counterpart Ashton Carter lauded the signing of the bilateral ‘Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement’ (52940157), saying the pact will facilitate opportunities for “practical engagement and exchange”.
Boost for Military Ties
The LEMOA will also facilitate the bilateral flow of supplies, spare parts and services from land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
The signing of LEMOA will lock India into a tighter strategic embrace with the US, without becoming an ally of the world’s sole superpower. The US has emerged as India’s top defence supplier (outstripping Russia) with $13 billion imports.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US in June, the US had announced its decision to elevate India to the status if major defence partner, which will allow it to share sensitive defence technologies, commensurate with its close allies. Alluding to the major defence partner status, the joint statement issued after the signing of the pact said: “They agreed on the importance (that) this framework will provide to facilitate innovative and advanced opportunities in defence technology and trade cooperation. To this end, the US has agreed to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with its closest allies and partners.”
The statement underscored that the defence ties between the two countries is based on their “shared values and interests,” and their “abiding commitment to global peace and security.”
The signing of LEMOA is expected to pave the way for forward movement on the other two foundational agreements, including CommunicationsInteroperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geo-spatial Cooperation, which are considered necessary for technology transfer and seamless communication between the military systems of the two countries.
The two defence ministers also discussed progress in Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), which has transformed the India-US defence relationship from the buyer-seller model to that of co-production and co-manufacturing. The DTTI agenda has been broadened to include the setting up five new Joint Working Groups on: Naval Systems; Air Systems, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; Chemical and Biological Protection; and Other Systems. Secretary Carter and Minister Parrikar also agreed to continue to their close consultation on “Make in India” proposals, said the statement.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.