What is BECA and what does it mean for India and US?
BECA will also help India and US counter the growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region thereby strengthening the Quad.
India and the United States will sign the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), the last of four so-called foundational agreements for sharing sensitive information, sales of advanced military hardware and geospatial cooperation, during the 2+2 ministerial dialogue on Tuesday ahead of the November 3 US presidential elections. US secretary of state Michael Pompeo and secretary of defence Mark Esper are holding talks with their respective counterparts external affairs minister S Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh.
What is BECA?
The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) is essentially an agreement proposed between the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency of the US department of defence and the defence ministry that will allow India and the US to share military information which includes maps, nautical and aeronautical charts, commercial and other unclassified imagery, geodetic, geophysical, geomagnetic and gravity data. Most of the information that will be shared will be that of the unclassified category but there is a provision of sharing classified information as well with proper safeguards in place to ensure that the information is not shared with any third party.
What happened before BECA?
India and the US have already signed three key foundational agreements - the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 and Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018. BECA has been under negotiations for over a decade as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was concerned about the impact of the agreement on the country’s national security.
What will India gain from the agreement?
The agreement will allow US armed forces to provide advanced financial navigational aids and geospatial intelligence which will improve the military’s accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons like cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones. BECA will also help India and US counter the growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region thereby strengthening the Quad. The agreement will also help India at a time of standoff with the Chinese army in Ladakh.