India-US Defence Cooperation


    In News

    Recently, India has resolved to intensify defence cooperation with the US’s Central Command in Florida and with the Commands in the Indo-Pacific region and Africa, during the US Secretary of Defense’s visit to India.

    • The bilateral discussion covered military-to-military engagement across services, information sharing, cooperation in emerging sectors of defence and mutual logistics support.

    Key Highlights

    • Foundational Agreements
      • Both countries acknowledged the foundational defence agreements like the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA).
      • They discussed steps to be taken to realise their full potential for mutual benefit.
    • Russian S-400 Missile
      • The visit is crucial as it comes in the midst of expectations that the US is likely to take some action over India’s plans to acquire the Russian S-400 missile defence system.
      • It could attract US sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
    • China and Indo-Pacific
      • China’s growing military activities in the South China Sea region is a concern for both India and the US.
      • India stands for freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce and adherence to international law which is a resounding affirmation of its shared vision for regional security in the Indo-Pacific.
      • The growing India-US defence partnership is a stronghold of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
      • Quadrilateral Framework (QUAD): India and the US along with Japan and Australia emphasise the collective resolve to maintain a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
    • Afghanistan Peace Process
      • In Afghanistan, the discussions are underway over whether the US will stick to its 1st May deadline to pull out all remaining troops and how it will proceed forward in the Intra-Afghan dialogue.
      • In the process, it is important that India expresses its sense of the situation in Afghanistan, given its important role there.
    • Military Exercises
      • Both countries reviewed the wide gamut of bilateral and multilateral exercises and agreed to pursue enhanced cooperation.
        • Malabar: Naval exercise among India, US and Japan.
        • Yudh Abhyas: Army exercise between India and the US.
    • Non-traditional Challenges and FDI
      • Both sides also discussed non-traditional challenges like oil spills and environmental disasters, drug trafficking, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing as well.
      • India also welcomed the US industries to take advantage of India’s liberalised Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policies in the defence sector.
    • Significance
      • The India-US partnership is a “central pillar” of the American policy for greater maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
      • India in particular is an increasingly important partner among today’s rapidly shifting international dynamics and the US reaffirms its commitment to a comprehensive and forward-looking defence partnership with India.
      • The warm and close relationship between the two countries is rooted in shared values of democracy, pluralism and commitment to a rules-based order.
    India-US Defence Agreements

    • In 2016, the US had designated India a “Major Defence Partner” intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
    • The agreements, General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), LEMOA, Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and BECA, are referred to as the foundational agreements which the US signs with countries with which it has close military ties.
    • General Security of Military Information Agreement
      • It was signed in 2002.
      • It provides for specific measures to ensure security standards for safeguarding critical information shared by the US with India.
    • Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement
      • The two countries inked LEMOA in 2016.
      • It allows their militaries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provide for deeper cooperation.
      • This is not a basing agreement and is purely a logistical agreement.
    • Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement
      • Both countries signed it in 2018.
      • It provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.
      • It is an India-specific version of the CISMOA.
    • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation
      • It was signed in 2020.
      • It gives India access to classified geospatial data as well as critical information having significant military applications from the US.
      • The geospatial information will significantly improve the accuracy of India’s missiles for targeted precision strikes.

    Countering America’s Adversaries Through the Sanctions Act

    • It is a federal law and was enacted in August 2017.
    • Objective: Counter the aggression by Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures i.e. imposing sanctions.
    • It has 12 types of sanctions and two of the most stringent ones are
      • Suspension of export licences related to munitions, dual-use and nuclear-related items.
      • Ban on American investment in equity/debt of the sanctioned person.
    • In 2018, the US President was given the authority to waive the sanctions on a case-by-case basis as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019.
    • In December 2020, the US imposed sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system.

    Source: TH