US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter and India’s Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikaron Monday (August 29) signed a defence agreement at Pentagon in Washington, DC to share logistics. The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) enables US and India to use each other’s military facilities. LEMOA will have a direct impact on both China and Pakistan in checking former’s growing influence in Asia and latter’s support for terrorists. Parrikar may carry forward talks on acquiring jet engine technology and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The text for the logistics cooperation agreement, it is believed, was finalised during Modi’s visit to Washington in June. Further two foundational agreements–the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) — are also under the hammer and could be pursued in close succession. The logistics agreement provides for each country to use the other for supplies, spare parts, services and refuelling.
The agreement is a key part of the Obama administration’s strategy to contain China, which has been spreading its influence across Asia. Forbes magazine warned ‘China and Pakistan beware — this week, India and US sign major war pact’. US Navy has planned to deploy 60 per cent of its surface ships in the Indo-Pacific in the near future. At Afghanistan and Iraq the US had to build everything from scratch, whereas India provides ready to use qualitative military facilities for use. There are concerns that the agreement could irk long-time ally Russia, but already committed to a new alliance with the US and its allies like Japan and Australia, Modi government is not too bothered about Russia’s response to US- India proximity.
China’s sustained hostility to India in late 1950s culminated in 1962 war and subsequent Chinese occupation of thousands of square kilometres of Indian Territory. Annexation of Tibet followed soon. Beijing’s aggressive designs on South China Sea have angered many neighbours in the neighbourhood. China steadfastly refused Indian request to settleborder dispute so the long-festering issue has now transcended to economic and strategic hegemony exacerbated by Chinese opposition to India’s membership of NSG and Pak terrorist issues.
There are concerns that the US could use the LEMOA to counter China’s growing military might, read airbases, in the South China Sea“Having LEMOA makes it much simpler for American naval and air forces to fight there. The US does not have actual bases in India. But, it has the next best thing — a simple way to use India’s bases,” Forbes noted describing it as ‘the key way-station on agreements still to come of military technology sharing of tremendous importance for India’.
The future agreements – CISMOA and BECA -would help India ‘stand up to the emerging superpower of China’, the report added. LEMOA could appear anti-China but Indiacould not remain quite after hostile steps from China. At last India overcame all the hesitations of history to deftly balance its geo-strategic interests. Current alliance with US added to earlier one with Russia now makes India far more secure. This in fact was the only way to control the hyper-aggressive China which, sans ethics, has been on the rampage in Asia. World’s largest, oldest and responsible democracies are at work to rein inthe mutant menace. The United States already recognises India as a Major Defence Partner. It helped India join the Missile Technology Control Regime. US is willing to provide top US defence technologyrelated to Jet engine, advanced Aircraft and UAV technology apart from F-16 /F18 which it has not shared with anyone in the world including its close friends. It wants to create the ecosystem of Advanced technology research. India is now able to build partnership with the US to secure license and build equipment. Sharing of logistics denotes deep trust and a natural alliance with each other.
Indo – US defence cooperation could have negative impact on already fragile strategic stability in South Asia. This defence pact will alienate Russia and push China more against India. It’s seems a start of a new geo-economic war between China and US. The arms India acquired from the US would help it ‘in many friction points’, in the fight against terrorist groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed which both the US and India consider as enemy. India’s efforts at the United Nations to get JeM chief Masood Azhar declared as a global terrorist was blocked by China. Historically India and Russia have a very mature relationship based on mutual trust, so Russia will appreciate Indian compulsion. India has already assured that facilities will not be used against friendly nations of India.
Moreover India and Russia have joint-ventures in defence like BrahMos missile, Sukhoi 30MKI fighter-jets. India has invested heavily in Russian oil-sector and Russian companies invested in Indian refineries, energy, nuclear-reactors. So the probability of a Russia-China-Pakistan axis to counterbalance LEMOA is unlikely. Pak’s role in USSR disintegration, synonymy with terror and China’s synonymy with expansion will goad Russia to stay neutral. India never intends to work against Russian interest”.India- US are natural partners, Russia-Indianeed based partners, China a trading partner and Pakistan just a neighbour; so China-Pakistan should not be unduly worried.
Seeking an escape from Strait of Malacca choke point China focused on ensuring that energy imports are not entirely water born lest it will be at the mercy of US navy. Also land-locked Xinjiang needed connectivity. CPEC provided China this strategic breather. How could India trust China after unprovoked invasion in 1962 while India was busy in supporting them on Tibet and at UNO.Construction of Chinese strategic naval base at Gwadar under the garb of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) became a serious concern for India. China’s hard line attitude, unnecessary provocations and the policy of threatening and hindering India at every step forced India into the American arms. LEMOA helps US to build India as a super power to counter China in South Asia.
This is a huge plus for India as it becomes an equal partner to USA. As US has bases all over the world, just in one shot India acquiresglobal reach that even China will envy. LEMOA pact enables India to utilise US bases spread all over the world; bases in Afghanistan and Japan will be immensely useful. India has its own disagreements and insecurities vis-a-vis China. US collaboration strengthens India’s security but the common denominator both the largest democracies share is the growth, development and progress. China has provided both India and US the much needed convergence of common strategic goals through South China Sea constructions and naval base at Gwadar.