Logistics support pact with US helps naval ties
A significant number of at sea replenishments have taken place between the Indian and United States navies in recent months, with the bilateral Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Association (LEMOA) being fully implemented, two government officials familiar with the move said on condition of anonymity.
India signed the LEMOA, the first of the three foundational agreements proposed by Washington to deepen bilateral military cooperation, with the US in August 2016.
Indian and US warships are being refuelled regularly by each other’s tankers at sea, easing logistical constraints under the LEMOA legal framework, said one of the officials cited above.
“Our warship deployed in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy patrols was refuelled by a US tanker earlier this month. All issues relating to cash payment or the reciprocal provision of logistics support have been straightened out,” said the second official.
Amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage, with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), arrived in Visakhapatnam on December 22 for a four-day port visit and was provided supplies and services under the LEMOA framework, said a navy officer requesting not to be identified.
Top Indian and US Navy officials met for the 21st Executive Steering Group on bilateral naval cooperation in New Delhi on December 12 and underlined how the naval partnership was getting stronger with a special mention of the LEMOA.
Military affairs expert Rear Admiral (retd) Sudarshan Shrikhande said the full scope of LEMOA was being realised by the two navies in terms of reciprocal provision of logistics support, supplies and services and the pact would serve as a template for similar arrangements with other countries such as Russia.
India and the US signed the second foundational defence partnership agreement in September, signalling the deepening of a relationship that has warmed over the recent years. The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (Comcasa) was signed by India and the US at the inaugural two-plus-two dialogue between their foreign and defence ministers.
Valid for 10 years, Comcasa aims to provide a legal framework for the transfer of highly sensitive communication security equipment from the US to India that will streamline and facilitate interoperability between their armed forces.
Comcasa was delayed for years as New Delhi bargained hard for getting its concerns addressed before inking the sensitive pact that would effectively mean opening up its military communications network to the US military.
Work on the third foundational agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), for sharing geospatial intelligence is yet to begin.