Logistics Support Agreement | Some major pointers

Logistics Support Agreement

  • Initially Logistics Support Agreement was called Access and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) but later it was renamed Logistics Support Agreement. 
  • ACSA is a standard agreement that US has with its NATO allies and other countries like Singapore, Afghanistan, Philippines, and Sri Lanka. US and Pakistan also signed an agreement in 2002, which lapsed in 2012.
  • Under Logistics Support Agreement, two sides can access supplies, spare parts and services from each other’s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
  • In past, India has provided logistics assistance to US on a ‘case by case’ basis. 
  • So for a short while, we permitted refueling of American aircraft in Bombay during first Gulf War in 1991. 
  • During Operation Enduring Freedom, India permitted US ships to visit Indian ports for repair and fuel. 
  • It also offered US military bases for operations in Afghanistan before Pakistan was coerced into doing needful. 
  • India also escorted US vessels through Malacca Straits in this period.
  • CISMOA would allow US to provide India with its encrypted communications equipment and systems so that Indian and US higher commanders, aircraft and ships can communicate with each other through secure networks in peace and war.
  • BECA would provide India with topographical and aeronautical data and products which will aid navigation and targeting. 
  • These are areas in which US is very advanced and agreement could definitely benefit India, although armed forces which use systems from many other countries like Israel and Russia are not comfortable with sharing information about their systems with US.
  • All these agreements are reciprocal. 
  • Two other agreements are not being discussed, but remain problematic. 
  • US require all foreign buyers to sign up to these agreements, and this includes close allies like UK and Australia. 
  • EUMA and EEUMA remain major deal-breakers when it comes to India acquiring US equipment, because India cannot always permit US to access locations where equipment or weapons systems are located. 

Does India need these foundation agreements?

  • If India intends to maintain its relations with US at current level, it can live without them.
  • But if it plans to enhance its ties to level of strategic coordination, or even cooperation, India would be well advised to sign them.

What would India gain by these agreements?

  • India could definitely benefit from BECA.
  • Logistics Support Agreement can theoretically extend reach of Indian Navy deep into Asia-Pacific region, where it has no base facilities.

Does India intend operational deployment in those areas anytime in this decade?

  • Logistics Support Agreement could also be useful in Indian operations in its backyard in Indian Ocean, but could it access American facilities in Oman for some future contingency in relation to Pakistan? Probably not.
  • Downsides of CISMOA are obvious – it would enable US to listen in on Indian conversations in operations where US may be neutral or even adversarial, such as contingencies relating to Pakistan.
  • It is for this reason that India has refused to accept advanced communications equipment with US made C-130J transports and P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft, and instead outfitted them with non-US communications equipment.
  • As for US, it does not quite have to depend on an Indian Logistics Support Agreement.
  • It has prosecuted two wars in past decade and more, without any real need for Indian facilities.
  • But getting India to sign up on LSA, CISMOA and BECA would serve purpose of binding India closer to US militarily, because it would make their equipment interoperable.
  • US’ larger goals in its ties with India are no secret.
  • 2006 version of National Security Strategy of US noted that US interests required a strong relationship with India, and that “India now is poised to shoulder global obligations in cooperation with US in a way befitting a major power.”
  • But Indian perspective remains clouded because it has no declared national security strategy, and hence it is difficult to determine what exactly it is seeking from its relationship with US.
  • Most obvious and general answer is that it wants high-technology, trade and good political ties with world’s primary power which would aid its economic growth.
  • Only US has clout to line up Nuclear Suppliers Group to waive its rules governing civil nuclear trade, as it did in 2008.
  • American blessings are needed to get rid of other technology restraints arising from Wassenaar Arrangement or Australia Group, and for big prize – a permanent seat in UNSC.

Would India be game for Joint Military Operations?

  • If so against whom? China or Pakistan, or some other party?
  • India and US do not have a common world or regional view – US may be inimical to China, but its relations with Beijing are denser than those between India and China.
  • Likewise, it may have difficulties with Pakistan, but not of kind India has.
  • India views good ties with Iran as a strategic asset, and US position is different.
  • Same could be said of Russia on whom Indian military machine will be dependent for at least another decade and a half.
  • Draft US-India Defence Partnership Act introduced in US Congress seeks to amend US Arms Control and Export Control Act to give India a special status equivalent of US treaty allies and partners.
  • In addition, this act will call on US president to “develop military contingency plans for addressing threats to mutual security interests” as well as call on president to “annually assess extent to which India possesses strategic operational capabilities to execute military operations of mutual interest to US and India.”
  • Presumably, if India lacks those capabilities, US will help to make up deficit.

Whether India wants that kind of a relationship with US

“Military operations of mutual interest” implies a military alliance. And military alliances come up when there is an imminent sense of danger.

What India Needs to Do?

  • So, one calculation that India has to make is whether balance of power in its region has become so skewed and situation so dangerous in its relations with China that it needs a military alliance with US to maintain balance of power.
  • Whether or not Washington and New Delhi are on same page on issues relating to not just South China Sea, but Sino-Indian border, Sino-Pakistan relationship and so on.
  • New Delhi should learn from way other US allies and proto-allies have dealt with Washington. Countries like Turkey, Pakistan, and even China have gained a great deal of political and strategic support or military aid by lining up with US. But at end of day they have played their own game.

Indo-US Important Agreements :

  • Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA)
  • Logistics Support Agreement (LSA)
  • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geospatial intelligence.
  • End Use Monitoring Agreement (EUMA)
  • Enhanced End Use Monitoring Agreement (EEUMA).

To read in more detail about the Logistics Support Agreement : Click Here

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