COM­CASA En­abling In­ter­op­er­abil­ity

Be­ing a ‘Ma­jor De­fence Part­ner’ of the US, it is im­per­a­tive for In­dia to sign the manda­tory three foun­da­tional pacts which al­low greater in­ter­op­er­abil­ity be­tween crit­i­cal tech­nolo­gies and smooth fa­cil­i­ta­tion of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

SP's Aviation - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By AIR MAR­SHAL SUKHCHAIN SINGH (RETD)

The land­mark Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­pat­i­bil­ity And Se­cu­rity Agree­ment (COM­CASA) signed be­tween In­dia and the US, is likely to open the way for sales of more sen­si­tive US mil­i­tary equip­ment to In­dia. The agree­ment was reached af­ter US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo and US De­fence Sec­re­tary JimMat­tis met De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sitharaman and For­eign Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi for the di­a­logue. COM­CASA comes as a ma­jor boost for In­dia that in 2016 has been des­ig­nated by the US as a ‘Ma­jor De­fence Part­ner’. Be­ing a ‘Ma­jor De­fence Part­ner’ of the US, it is im­per­a­tive for In­dia to sign the manda­tory three foun­da­tional pacts which al­low greater in­ter­op­er­abil­ity be­tween crit­i­cal tech­nolo­gies and

smooth fa­cil­i­ta­tion of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion. It was un­der for­mer De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar that Lo­gis­tics Ex­change Mem­o­ran­dum of Agree­ment (LE­MOA) was signed. And now it is De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sitharaman who got COM­CASA off the ground.The foun­da­tional agree­ments are meant to lay the ba­sic ground work and pro­mote in­ter­op­er­abil­ity be­tween mil­i­taries by cre­at­ing com­mon stan­dards and sys­tems. They also guide sale and trans­fer of high-end tech­nolo­gies.

FOUN­DA­TIONAL AGREE­MENTS

The three agree­ments in the orig­i­nal US ter­mi­nol­ogy, are Lo­gis­tics Se­cu­rity Agree­ment (LSA), which en­ables use of each other’s mil­i­tary in­fra­struc­ture and fa­cil­i­ties, Ba­sic Ex­change & Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment (BECA) that pro­vides for shar­ing geo-spa­tial in­tel­li­gence and the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion & In­for­ma­tion on Se­cu­rity Mem­o­ran­dum of Agree­ment (CISMOA), which fa­cil­i­tates the US pro­vid­ing equip­ment and soft­ware for com­mu­ni­ca­tions se­cu­rity. All th­ese have been part of the dis­cus­sion ever since the US-In­dia De­fence Frame­work Agree­ment came into be­ing in 2005 as part of the bur­geon­ing US-In­dia strate­gic al­liance. This was meant to pro­vide op­er­a­tional boost to de­fence co­opera- tion be­tween the two coun­tries, es­pe­cially sale of ad­vanced US mil­i­tary hard­ware to In­dia, which was off the table till then. The US has con­tin­u­ally pressed In­dia to sign th­ese agree­ments, ar­gu­ing that it would be nec­es­sary not only for sale of sen­si­tive de­fence equip­ment, but es­pe­cially for trans­fer of ad­vanced US mil­i­tary tech­nol­ogy, which In­dia was in­ter­ested in.

Over the last decade, In­dia has made the US its big­gest arms sup­plier, spend­ing around $15 bil­lion on Amer­i­can weaponry. Yet many US plat­forms bought have turned out to be less than cut­ting-edge. Af­ter New Delhi’s un­will­ing­ness to sign what Wash­ing­ton la­bels a “foun­da­tional agree­ment”, the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions In­ter­op­er­abil­ity and Se­cu­rity Mem­o­ran­dum of Agree­ment (CISMOA), has forced the re­place­ment of closely-guarded ra­dio, com­mu­ni­ca­tions se­cu­rity and nav­i­ga­tion kits with lower-grade, com­mer­cially-avail­able equip­ment. COM­CASA cre­ates the con­di­tions for the In­dian mil­i­tary to re­ceive mod­ern se­cure and net-en­abled weapons sys­tems such as pre­ci­sion ar­ma­ment, air-to-air mis­siles, space sys­tems and nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems that are crit­i­cal com­po­nents in plat­forms such as fighter air­craft and un­manned ae­rial sys­tems. Hith­erto, In­dia has had to pur­chase more ex­pen­sive com­mer­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tions

Over the last decade, In­dia has made the US its big­gest arms sup­plier, spend­ing around $15 bil­lion on Amer­i­can weaponry

equip­ment, rais­ing the over­all ac­qui­si­tion price of a plat­form,” said Ben Schwartz, Se­nior Di­rec­tor (De­fence and Aero­space), US-In­dia Busi­ness Coun­cil (USIBC).

EN­HANC­ING PLAT­FORMS CA­PA­BIL­ITY THROUGH COM­CASA

One ex­am­ple is the C-130J Su­per Her­cules Spe­cial Forces air­craft for tac­ti­cal op­er­a­tions. Such op­er­a­tions need se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween the air­craft and tac­ti­cal teams for sur­prise and suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tions par­tic­u­larly in an in­ter­op­er­abil­ity en­vi­ron­ment. Amer­ica tightly con­trols the com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment used for this, deny­ing it to coun­tries that have not signed CISMOA. So far, In­dia had opted for com­mer­cially avail­able ra­dio kits, rather than sign­ing CISMOA. Sim­i­larly, the In­dian Navy’s Boe­ing P-8I mar­itime air­craft is amongst the world’s most ef­fec­tive sub­ma­rine hun­ters. But de­tect­ing and pin­point­ing an en­emy sub­ma­rine is only the first step, at­tack­ing it re­quires the P-8I to com­mu­ni­cate with naval forces in the vicin­ity and with shore­based naval fa­cil­i­ties. Since th­ese voice and data chan­nels called Data Link-11 and Link-16 are guarded un­der CISMOA, the P-8I has been equipped with older com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment. The ab­sence of th­ese links also pre­vents the P-8I from gen­er­at­ing a Com­mon Tac­ti­cal Pic­ture with friendly re­gional navies, who op­er­ate over CISMOA-pro­tected links.

There are other such cases. In a con­flict with China, the ab­sence of Link-16 would pre­vent com­bat air­craft of the In­dian Air Force (IAF) from gen­er­at­ing a Com­mon Air Pic­ture, even if friendly air forces were eager to com­mu­ni­cate with the IAF on the ac­tiv­i­ties of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Air Force (PLAAF). Not sign­ing of CISMOA also de­nied the mil­i­tary Global Po­si­tion­ing Sys­tem (GPS) sys­tems and state-of-theart guid­ance for the Ad­vanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Mis­sile (AMRAAM) that may equip IAF fighters. In­dia’s fleet of 15 CH-47F Chi­nook he­li­copters by same logic, will not have nav­i­ga­tion and ra­dio equip­ment of the same so­phis­ti­ca­tion as the he­li­copters in the US Army.

THE NE­GO­TI­A­TIONS

While in Delhi in April 2017, US De­fence Sec­re­tary Ash­ton Carter ar­gued that Amer­i­can weapon sys­tems were ca­pa­ble even with­out CISMOA-con­trolled equip­ment. But he con­ceded that In­dia was miss­ing out, say­ing, “I want to em­pha­sise that there is a lot we can do with­out the foun­da­tional agree­ments; but there is much more we can do with them.” Carter was part-vin­di­cated on Au­gust 29. 2017 when Wash­ing­ton and New Delhi signed the LE­MOA, the first of the three foun­da­tional agree­ments. Yet that still left two: CISMOA and the Ba­sic Ex­change and Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment for Geospa­tial In­for­ma­tion and Ser­vices Co­op­er­a­tion (BECA), which lays down pro­to­cols for dig­i­tal map­ping and sur­vey.

CISMOA ne­go­ti­a­tions have sput­tered on spo­rad­i­cally since 2005. On New Delhi’s re­quest, Wash­ing­ton has agreed to re­name the agree­ment COM­CASA to al­low In­dia a coun­tryspe­cific agree­ment, dif­fer­ent from what the US De­part­ment of De­fence has signed with dozens of other coun­tries. A sim­i­lar logic was em­ployed in the LE­MOA, which was given an In­di­aspe­cific name to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it from the LSA that US has signed with other coun­tries.

Even so, merely re­nam­ing the agree­ment would not have made it ac­cept­able to In­dian pub­lic opin­ion, since the stan­dard CISMOA draft, the ba­sis of COM­CASA ne­go­ti­a­tions, is in­her­ently more in­tru­sive than LE­MOA. A se­nior Pen­tagon of­fi­cial who par­tic­i­pated in CISMOA ne­go­ti­a­tions with In­dia con­fessed, “When we sat down with the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) in Delhi and the CISMOA ex­perts ex­plained the draft, even we were taken aback by the in­tru­sive­ness. We looked at each other and rolled our eyes, ‘this is not go­ing to hap­pen’.”

IN­DIAN CON­CERNS AD­DRESSED IN COM­CASA

The Pen­tagon had re­peat­edly of­fered to ad­dress In­dian con­cerns, ask­ing New Delhi to iden­tify ob­jec­tion­able clauses in the stan­dard CISMOA draft. A safe­guard agree­ment for the pro­tec­tive

The Pen­tagon had re­peat­edly of­fered to ad­dress In­dian con­cerns, ask­ing New Delhi to iden­tify ob­jec­tion­able clauses in the stan­dard CISMOA draft

tech­nolo­gies in­stalled on the Prime Min­is­ter’s Boe­ing Busi­ness Jet, which are sim­i­lar to the ones that pro­tect the US Pres­i­dent’s air­craft, Air Force One, had been signed ear­lier by the Govern­ment of In­dia. Ben Schwartz of the USIBC down­plays con­cerns terming it “triv­ial and about as much of a threat to na­tional sovereignty as grant­ing a multi­na­tional telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany li­cence to op­er­ate in In­dia.” He ar­gues that both types of ac­tiv­i­ties take place en­tirely un­der the laws of the In­dian Govern­ment.

LSA, CISMOA and BECA are not par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing agree­ments. Cer­tainly, none of th­ese rep­re­sent any­thing revo­lu­tion­ary. In­stead, they are the foun­da­tional build­ing blocks for a deeper US-In­dia de­fence part­ner­ship. The LE­MOA for In­dia sets a frame­work for the two coun­tries to share mil­i­tary lo­gis­tics. Un­der the re­cip­ro­cal agree­ment, both New Delhi and Wash­ing­ton would have the abil­ity, but not the obli­ga­tion, to as­sist each other’s armed forces with sim­ple mil­i­tary lo­gis­tics. For the US Navy for ex­am­ple, lo­gis­tics sup­port from In­dia would be a valu­able as­set, help­ing it bet­ter project power in the In­dian Ocean. COM­CASA for In­dia mean­while, would al­low the US to sup­ply In­dia with its pro­pri­etary en­crypted com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment and sys­tems, al­low­ing se­cure peace­time and wartime com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween high-level mil­i­tary lead­ers on both sides. COM­CASA would ex­tend this ca­pa­bil­ity to In­dian and US mil­i­tary as­sets, in­clud­ing air­craft and ships. Fi­nally, BECA, when it is ne­go­ti­ated and signed, would set a frame­work through which the US could share sen­si­tive data with In­dia to aid tar­get­ing and nav­i­ga­tion. From the per­spec­tive of the US, apart from the mod­est tech­ni­cal ben­e­fits of closer co­op­er­a­tion with New Delhi, th­ese agree­ments are largely about build­ing a foun­da­tion of trust. In this way, they are sim­i­lar to the 2002 Gen­eral Se­cu­rity of Mil­i­tary In­for­ma­tion Agree­ment (GSOMIA), which, ac­cord­ing to then US De­fence Sec­re­tary Don­ald Rums­feld “Paved the way for greater tech­nol­ogy co­op­er­a­tion” be­tween the two sides. GSOMIA, which ul­ti­mately en­abled the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion-era DTTI, LE­MOA, COM­CASA and BECA, would open new doors for the US and In­dia sig­nalling the start of a new era, co­in­cid­ing with the re­cently up­dated US-In­dia de­fence frame­work.

NEW IN­DUC­TIONS FROM THE US

An ad­di­tional el­e­ment of ur­gency is the favourable de­ci­sion by the US to sell In­dia armed Sea Guardian or more ac­cu­rately, Preda­tor-B or MQ9-B Reaper drones, su­per­sed­ing the ear­lier US de­ci­sion to con­fine the sale only to the un­armed ver­sion. The US had also been lever­ag­ing pres­sure tac­tics re­gard­ing the pos­si­ble ac­qui­si­tion by In­dia of Rus­sian S-400 mis­sile de­fence sys­tems, ar­gu­ing that po­ten­tial breaches in com­mu­ni­ca­tions se­cu­rity re­lated to in­te­gra­tion of the anti-mis­sile sys­tem with other hard­ware might be se­ri­ous im­ped­i­ments to the sale of sen­si­tive equip­ment such as armed drones to In­dia by the US.

Then there is the im­por­tant is­sue of com­mu­ni­ca­tions se­cu­rity for which COM­CASA is be­ing made a ne­ces­sity. NATO and other mil­i­tary al­lies of the US do not need or want to pur­sue this goal be­cause they have cho­sen to be part of a US mil­i­tary al­liance, pre­pared for joint mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions, ob­vi­ously against de­clared ‘en­e­mies’ and hence would be quite com­fort­able work­ing with en­crypted US hard­ware and soft­ware.

CON­CLU­SION

In­dia prides it­self in be­ing a lead­ing In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy (ICT) power. In­dia has and will con­tinue at least into the medium term, to have mil­i­tary and strate­gic equip­ment from di­verse sources. Can In­dia not work out en­cryp­tion, se­cu­rity and sys­tems in­te­gra­tion of di­verse hard­ware and soft­ware, among ground, air, space and ocean as­sets? This is an ex­tremely im­por­tant is­sue and well worth ded­i­cated indige­nous ef­fort. Achiev­ing this ca­pa­bil­ity will be in­de­pen­dent of sign­ing COM­CASA as a pre­req­ui­site for buy­ing US equip­ment and thus may help in In­dia’s self-reliance in non-COM­CASA equip­ment.

In­dia has and will con­tinue at least into the medium term, to have mil­i­tary and strate­gic equip­ment from di­verse sources

LAND­MARK MO­MENT: US SEC­RE­TARY OF DE­FENCE JAMES MAT­TIS AND DE­FENCE MIN­IS­TER NIR­MALA SITHARAMAN EX­CHANG­ING THE DOC­U­MENTS AF­TER SIGN­ING THE COM­CASA DUR­ING THE 2+2 BI­LAT­ERAL DI­A­LOGUE BE­TWEEN THE TWO COUN­TRIES IN NEW DELHI

STRENGTH­EN­ING TIES: PRIME MIN­IS­TER NAREN­DRA MODI WITH THE US SEC­RE­TARY OF STATE, MICHAEL R. POM­PEO AND THE US SEC­RE­TARY OF DE­FENCE, JAMES MAT­TIS, EX­TER­NAL AF­FAIRS MIN­IS­TER SUSHMA SWARAJ AND DE­FENCE MIN­IS­TER NIR­MALA SITHARAMAN IN NEW DELHI ON SEPTEM­BER 6, 2018.

DE­FENCE MIN­IS­TER NIR­MALA SITHARAMAN LEAD­ING THE IN­DIAN DEL­E­GA­TION DUR­ING THE BI­LAT­ERAL MEET­ING WITH THE US SEC­RE­TARY OF DE­FENCE, JAMES MAT­TIS IN NEW DELHI ON THE SIDE­LINES OF THE 2+2 DI­A­LOGUE.

THANKS TO COM­CASA, PREDA­TOR B SEA GUARDIAN UAV WILL HAVE FULL TEETH FOR THE IN­DIAN FORCES

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