LEMOA: An Assess­ment

India Strategic - - CONTENTS - By Capt Gur­preet S Khu­rana (Retd)

ON 29 Au­gust 2016, dur­ing the visit of the In­dian De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar to Wash­ing­ton DC, In­dia and the United States (US) signed the Lo­gis­tics Ex­change Me­moran­dum of Agree­ment (LEMOA). Essen­tially, LEMOA is only a ‘func­tional’ agree­ment ‘to ac­count for’ the es­sen­tial sup­plies and ser­vices that one coun­try would pro­vide (at its port or air­port fa­cil­ity) to the vis­it­ing mil­i­tary force of the other – an ar­range­ment that the US has made with over a hun­dred coun­tries world­wide.

Nonethe­less, the sig­nif­i­cant sym­bolic and strate­gic im­port of the agree­ment can­not be ig­nored. Also, while the pro­posal was ini­ti­ated in 2002, it has fruc­ti­fied at a cru­cial time. Never be­fore in re­cent his­tory has Asia’s geopo­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment been so ten­u­ous; or the strate­gic in­ter­ests of In­dia and the US so con­ver­gent. Un­der­stand­ably, there­fore, the sign­ing of LEMOA has grabbed much at­ten­tion, and raised the mul­ti­tude of ques­tions and spec­u­la­tions. This es­say at­tempts to clar­ify a few key is­sues, and ap­praise LEMOA in terms of its strate­gic im­pli­ca­tions.

In the past, In­dia and the US have trans­acted mil­i­tary lo­gis­tics, but on an ad hoc ba­sis and largely dur­ing com­bined ex­er­cises. LEMOA would change the na­ture of trans­ac­tions. Hitherto, each trans­ac­tion was con­sid­ered as a sep­a­rate case and on ev­ery oc­ca­sion, paid for in cash by the side us­ing the sup­plies or ser­vices. LEMOA would en­tail both sides main­tain­ing a ledger for the trans­ac­tions, such that much of the debit would be de­frayed against the credit, and only the resid­ual bal­ance ow­ing to which­ever side would be paid for at the end of the fis­cal year. Notably, as a stand­ing agree­ment, LEMOA is in­dica­tive of the ex­pec­ta­tion on both sides that lo­gis­tic trans­ac­tions would in­crease in the com­ing years, and ex­pand from com­bined ex­er­cises to co­or­di­nated oper­a­tions.

How­ever, the sign­ing of LEMOA has led to a per­cep­tion (in some quar­ters) that In­dia has side-stepped “its pol­icy of not en­ter­ing into a mil­i­tary agree­ment with any ma­jor”. Ow­ing to its civ­i­liza­tional ethos, In­dia’s for­eign pol­icy pro­scribes a ‘mil­i­tary al­liance’, but not a ‘mil­i­tary agree­ment’. In the past, In­dia has en­tered into a plethora of mil­i­tary agree­ments with ma­jor pow­ers on var­i­ous func­tional as­pects, such as de­vel­op­ment of de­fence hard­ware, com­bined ex­er­cises, and shar­ing of op­er­a­tional in­for­ma­tion. Specif­i­cally with the US, in 2002, In­dia en­tered into an agree­ment with the US to pro­vide naval es­cort to the US high-value ships tran­sit­ing the Malacca Straits.

As an­other func­tional agree­ment, LEMOA rep­re­sents no de­par­ture from In­dia’s en­dur­ing

pol­icy. Even un­der LEMOA, In­dia would be able to ex­er­cise its strate­gic au­ton­omy.

The agree­ment would not re­strict In­dia’s strate­gic op­tions since it is ‘ tiertwo’ agree­ment. This im­plies than only if and when the In­dian govern­ment agrees to a US pro­posal to con­duct a com­bined mil­i­tary ex­er­cise or op­er­a­tion ( en­tail­ing a lo­gis­tics ex­change), will LEMOA come into play.

For in­stance, since the In­dia-US Mal­abar naval ex­er­cise is a stand­ing ar­range­ment ap­proved by the In­dian govern­ment, LEMOA will ap­ply on all oc­ca­sions that such ex­er­cises are con­ducted. As an­other in­stance, if hy­po­thet­i­cally, the US seeks to un­der­take a co­or­di­nated mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion with In­dia to flush out a ter­ror­ist group in a neigh­bour­ing coun­try, based on many fac­tors, In­dia may de­cide turn down the US pro­posal, with no obli­ga­tion to of­fer the US forces ac­cess to In­dian lo­gis­tic fa­cil­i­ties.

Fur­ther­more, as the In­dian Min­istry of De­fence ( MoD) Press Re­lease specif­i­cally states, the agree­ment does not pro­vide for set­ting up of a US mil­i­tary base on In­dian soil.

The above leads to a per­ti­nent ques­tion: Does LEMOA give the right to the US and In­dian armed forces to use each oth­ers’ mil­i­tary bases? Ac­cord­ing to the In­dian MoD Press Re­lease, LEMOA per­tains to re­cip­ro­cal ‘ac­cess’ rights to mil­i­tary forces for lo­gis­tic sup­plies and ser­vices com­pris­ing “food, wa­ter, bil­let­ing, trans­porta­tion, pe­tro­leum, oils, lu­bri­cants, cloth­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices, med­i­cal ser­vices, stor­age ser­vices, train­ing ser­vices, spare-parts and com­po­nents, re­pair and main­te­nance ser­vices, cal­i­bra­tion ser­vices and port ser­vices.”

Even at present, some of these sup­plies and

ser­vices would be avail­able only in the mil­i­tary base of the host coun­try. In the com­ing years – given the ex­ist­ing trends – when a sub­stan­tial pro­por­tion of In­dian mil­i­tary hard­ware is of US ori­gin, the vis­it­ing mil­i­tary force may seek to re­plen­ish even am­mu­ni­tion, mis­siles and tor­pe­does from the host coun­try. LEMOA may then be­come anal­o­gous to the re­cip­ro­cal use of mil­i­tary bases.

The sign­ing of LEMOA has led to ap­pre­hen­sions amongst a few an­a­lysts in In­dia that the ben­e­fits of the agree­ment weigh heav­ily in favour of the US. Such per­cep­tion may not be true. The US pos­sesses nu­mer­ous glob­ally-dis­persed over­seas mil­i­tary bases and ac­cess fa­cil­i­ties. In an op­er­a­tional con­tin­gency, there­fore, the US would ex­pect In­dia to pro­vide es­sen­tial sup­plies and ser­vices to its mil­i­tary forces only if the con­tin­gency oc­curs in ge­o­graphic prox­im­ity of the In­dian sub-con­ti­nent.

Such lo­gis­tics may also be re­quired for an in­ter- the­atre shift of US forces in an emer­gency – such as the Per­sian Gulf crises of 1990, when C-141 trans­port planes tran­sit­ing from the Philip­pines to the Gulf were re­fu­elled in In­dian air­fields – but such oc­ca­sions would be rare. In con­trast, In­dia has no over­seas mil­i­tary base, and yet its ar­eas of in­ter­est are fast ex­pand­ing much be­yond its im­me­di­ate neigh­bour­hood – notably, the Per­sian Gulf, south­ern In­dian Ocean and the western Pa­cific – where its abil­ity to in­flu­ence events is se­verely con­strained by stretched lo­gis­tic lines. Ac­cess to the US mil­i­tary bases in these ar­eas, fa­cil­i­tated by LEMOA, would pro­vide use­ful strate­gic al­ter­na­tives to In­dia.

In sum, there­fore, while LEMOA may be func­tional agree­ment meant to fa­cil­i­tate mil­i­tary oper­a­tions and ex­er­cises, it would en­hance the strate­gic op­tions of the in­volved par­ties; and thus pose a cred­i­ble strate­gic de­ter­rence to ac­tors – both state and non­state – that seek to un­der­mine re­gional se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity.

How­ever, to ad­dress the pos­si­bil­ity of its neg­a­tive per­cep­tion in terms of In­dia’s ‘pol­icy po­lar­iza­tion’, New Delhi may con­sider en­ter­ing into sim­i­lar agree­ments with other ma­jor pow­ers with whom its strate­gic in­ter­ests con­verge.

AT THE in­vi­ta­tion of US Sec­re­tary of De­fense Ash­ton Carter, Min­is­ter of De­fence of In­dia Manohar Par­rikar made his sec­ond of­fi­cial visit to the United States Au­gust 29-31. In ad­di­tion to his of­fi­cial meet­ings at the Pen­tagon and joint visit to the 9/11 Me­mo­rial with Sec­re­tary Carter, Min­is­ter Par­rikar also met with the lead­er­ship of the De­fense In­no­va­tion Unit Ex­per­i­men­tal (DIUx) and vis­ited US Cy­ber Com­mand (CYBERCOM).

He will also visit the De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Pro­jects Agency (DARPA), and Joint Base Lan­g­ley-Eustis for a tour of the Air Com­bat Com­mand ( ACC) and the 480th In­tel­li­gence, Sur­veil­lance, and Re­con­nais­sance (ISR) Wing. In ad­di­tion, he will in­ter­act with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of US de­fense in­dus­try dur­ing the visit.

The de­fense re­la­tion­ship be­tween In­dia and the United States is based on the two coun­tries’ shared values and in­ter­ests, and their abid­ing com­mit­ment to global peace and se­cu­rity. Dur­ing their meet­ing, Min­is­ter Par­rikar and Sec­re­tary Carter dis­cussed the wealth of progress in bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion and the deep­en­ing strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween the United States and In­dia.

The visit – their sixth in­ter­ac­tion to date – demon­strates the im­por­tance both sides place on strength­en­ing de­fense ties across many ar­eas: from in­creased strate­gic and re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, to deep­ened mil­i­taryto-mil­i­tary ex­changes, to ex­panded col­lab­o­ra­tion on de­fense tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion.

Min­is­ter Par­rikar and Sec­re­tary Carter dis­cussed In­dia’s “Ma­jor De­fense Part­ner” des­ig­na­tion, an­nounced dur­ing Prime Min­is­ter Modi’s visit to Wash­ing­ton in June. They agreed on the im­por­tance this frame­work will pro­vide to fa­cil­i­tate in­no­va­tive and ad­vanced op­por­tu­ni­ties in de­fense tech­nol­ogy and trade co­op­er­a­tion. To this end, the United States has agreed to el­e­vate de­fense trade and tech­nol­ogy shar­ing with In­dia to a level com­men­su­rate with its clos­est al­lies and part­ners.

Sec­re­tary Carter wel­comed In­dia’s mem­ber­ship in the Mis­sile Tech­nol­ogy Con­trol Regime (MTCR) and reaf­firmed US sup­port for In­dia’s mem­ber­ship in the Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group (NSG).

Sec­re­tary Carter and Min­is­ter Par­rikar wel­comed con­tin­ued progress un­der the De­fense Tech­nol­ogy and Trade Ini­tia­tive (DTTI). They wel­comed the de­ci­sion at the DTTI meet­ing in Delhi in July to broaden its agenda by set­ting up five new joint work­ing groups on: naval sys­tems; air sys­tems, in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance; chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion; and other sys­tems. They also noted the sign­ing of an in­for­ma­tion ex­change an­nex un­der the frame­work of the Air­craft Car­rier Joint Work­ing Group. Sec­re­tary Carter and Min­is­ter Par­rikar also agreed to con­tinue to their close con­sul­ta­tion on “Make in In­dia” pro­pos­als.

Sec­re­tary Carter and Min­is­ter Par­rikar praised the dis­cus­sions at the in­au­gu­ral Mar­itime Se­cu­rity Dia­logue held in May. They wel­comed the con­clu­sion of the bi­lat­eral ‘White Ship­ping’’ tech­ni­cal ar­range­ment for data shar­ing on com­mer­cial ship­ping traf­fic. They also dis­cussed co­op­er­a­tion on ca­pa­bil­i­ties to aug­ment In­dia’s ca­pac­ity for mar­itime do­main aware­ness (MDA). Ac­knowl­edg­ing In­dia’s pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions to re­gional se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity, in­clud­ing in mat­ters be­yond the mar­itime space, Sec­re­tary Carter and Min­is­ter Par­rikar an­nounced their agree­ment to fur­ther con­sul­ta­tions in this area, in­clud­ing the next Mar­itime Se­cu­rity Dia­logue, which will be held later this year. They noted re­cent high level of­fi­cial ex­changes in­clud­ing the visit to New Delhi of Gen. John Ni­chol­son for con­sul­ta­tions on Afghanistan, as well as by the sec­re­tary of the US Navy and the sec­re­tary of the US Air Force ear­lier this month.

Min­is­ter Par­rikar and Sec­re­tary Carter wel­comed the con­tin­ued ef­forts by both coun­tries’ mil­i­taries to deepen bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion and ex­pand op­por­tu­ni­ties for greater col­lab­o­ra­tion. They com­mended the re­cent com­ple­tion of the naval ex­er­cise MAL­ABAR with Ja­pan and In­dia’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Ri­mof-the- Pa­cific ( RIMPAC) Ex­er­cise in Hawaii, as well as the Red Flag Air Force Ex­er­cise in Alaska. They were en­cour­aged by the in­creased com­plex­ity in the YUDH ABHYAS Army ex­er­cise, which is sched­uled for Septem­ber in In­dia. They agreed to fa­cil­i­tate greater and reg­u­lar in­ter­ac­tions to deepen mu­tual un­der­stand­ing be­tween mil­i­tary ser­vices and pro­mote prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion in ar­eas of mu­tual in­ter­est, such as counter-ter­ror­ism, mar­itime se­cu­rity, spe­cial oper­a­tions, hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance and dis­as­ter re­lief. They also wel­comed the sign­ing of the bi­lat­eral lo­gis­tics ex­change me­moran­dum of agree­ment ( LEMOA), which will fa­cil­i­tate ad­di­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for prac­ti­cal en­gage­ment and ex­change.

Sec­re­tary Carter re­it­er­ated his ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the sup­port pro­vided by Min­is­ter Par­rikar and the Govern­ment of In­dia that fa­cil­i­tated the re­cov­ery and repa­tri­a­tion of US World War II re­mains in April. Min­is­ter Par­rikar re­in­forced his com­mit­ment to this im­por­tant mis­sion and he and Sec­re­tary Carter were pleased that the US De­fense POW/ MIA Ac­count­ing Agency (DPAA) would re­turn to In­dia Nove­mer 1-De­cem­ber 14 to sur­vey ad­di­tional air­craft crash lo­ca­tions.

Sec­re­tary of De­fense Ash­ton Carter and In­dian Min­is­ter of De­fence Manohar Par­rikar at a meet­ing at the Pen­tagon

Sec­re­tary of De­fense Carter and In­dian Min­is­ter of De­fence Par­rikar at a joint press con­fer­ence af­ter the mee­ing at the Pen­tagon

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.