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Foundational agreements between India and US

  • Category
    World Affairs
  • Published
    25th May, 2019
  • U.S. Chief of naval operations Admiral John M. Richardson recently visited India and expressed concern about ‘the threat coming from the sea’. He said that India and the U.S. are cooperating to prevent all forms of terrorism both from land and sea.
  • According to him foundational agreement, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), which India signed last year would enable exchange of information on such threats.

Context

  • U.S. Chief of naval operations Admiral John M. Richardson recently visited India and expressed concern about ‘the threat coming from the sea’. He said that India and the U.S. are cooperating to prevent all forms of terrorism both from land and sea.
  • According to him foundational agreement, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), which India signed last year would enable exchange of information on such threats.

About

What are the foundational agreements?

  • The four agreements — General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) are referred to as the foundational agreements which the U.S. signs with countries with which it has close military ties.

What are its benefits?

  • 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.

Foundational military agreements between USA and India:

  • General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)
    • It was signed in 2002 between India and USA.
    • GSOMIA paved the way for greater technology cooperation in the military sector.
    • It allows the sharing of classified information from the U.S. government and American companies with the Government of India and Defense Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) but not with Indian private companies.
  • Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)
  • This is a logistics support agreement signed in 2016.
  • It gives both the nations access to each other’s military facilities. But it does not make it automatic or obligatory.
  • It is a tweaked India-specific version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) which the U.S. has with several countries it has close military to military cooperation. 
  • The agreement will primarily cover four areas — port calls, joint exercises, training and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. Any other requirement has to be agreed upon by both sides on a case-by-case basis.
  • Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)
  • It is the most recent agreement signed in 2018.
  • COMCASA is an India-specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA). It comes into force immediately and is valid for a period 10 years.
  • It would facilitate access to advanced defense systems and enable India to optimally utilize its existing U.S.-origin platforms. COMCASA allows India to procure transfer specialized equipment for encrypted communications for US origin military platforms like the C-17, C-130 and P-8Is.

Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA):

  • BECA is last of the four foundational agreements. It is yet to be signed between the two nations.
  • It facilitates exchange of geospatial information. It would set a framework through which the US could share sensitive data to aid targeting and navigation with India.
  • These agreements can bring military advantage to India though they have been politically contentious. Also, it is feared that they may undermine India’s military autonomy.

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