With Left out, India fast-tracks military pacts with US

By Ritu Sharma, IANS,

New Delhi : With the Communists off their back, the Indian government is fast-tracking three key military pacts with the United States, including one under which their militaries can refuel ships and aircraft in cashless transactions that are balanced at the end of the year.

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Apart from the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), the other pacts pending are the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) that will enable the two militaries communicate on a common platform, and an end-user agreement governing the sale of US military hardware to India

These pacts have been in the limbo for long due to the objections of the Left parties over the warming India-US military ties. With the communists having withdrawn their outside support to the government, which subsequently won a trust vote in parliament, the way is now clear for inking the agreements, a defence ministry official said.

“The LSA would require both countries to provide their bases, fuel and other kind of logistics support to each others’ fighter jets and naval warships,” the official told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Explaining the advantages of the agreement, the official said: “India will have to spend close to Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion) for participating in the Red Flag exercise (with the US Air Force next month).

“Had an LSA been in place, India would not have had to physically pay the money but would have provided reciprocal facilities in this country whenever the US defence forces required them,” the official added.

India’s ambassador to the US Ronen Sen had met Defence Minister A.K. Antony here July 24 to discuss the various India-US pacts that are in cold storage.

The US has agreements similar to the LSA in place with some 65 countries.

In most cases, it is called the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) that was formerly known as the NATO Mutual Support Act. It was enacted to simplify exchanges of logistic support, supplies, and services between the US and NATO forces. It was amended in 1986, 1992 and 1994 to permit ACSAs with non-NATO countries.

With the Indian and US militaries increasing their engagement in war games on land, in the air and at sea, CISMOA has become a necessity to ensure there are no communication glitches.

“With the increasing number of military exercises between the countries, the pact is set to be given the green signal soon,” the official said.

As for the end-user agreement, India has so far refused to sign it in its present form and has asked for modifications.

“It’s like this: we purchase, say, night vision goggles from the US and deploy these on the LoC (Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir). Obviously, we cannot allow US inspectors to physically verify this,” the official said.

“Therefore, we’ll work out a system where we will certify where the equipment is located and the US will take our word for it,” the official added.