On Monday, India and US signed the bilateral ‘Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement’ (LEMOA).
But what does that mean?
The agreement facilitates the provision of logistical support, supplies, and services between the US and Indian militaries on a reimbursable basis, and provides a framework to govern them. At least that’s what the official document said.
What it means is that both India and the US can both use each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply. And now the two countries have agreed on how much they will pay each other to do so and in what circumstances.
So there will be US forces on Indian bases all the time or will they set up bases here?
“There is no provision for any base or any sort of activities to set up a base in India,” Parrikar told reporters after the agreement was signed.
So what good is it to the US?
But if a unit of the US military requires food, water, billeting, transportation, petroleum, oils, lubricants, clothing, medical services, spare parts and components, repair and maintenance services, training services, or other services they can get them at a Indian military base. And vice versa.
The agreement will allow the Indian and US navies to have an easier time supporting each other in joint operations and exercises and when providing humanitarian assistance, Parrikar said.
So then why is it a big deal?
Three words: China & bilateral relations
The US and India have been coming closer militarily for some time now and the agreement is just another boost to the defence ties between the two nations. The US has said that it will boost trade and technology sharing with India to a level that is proportional to its “closest allies and partners”.
The fact that the agreement hadn’t been signed had affected plans for sharing secure communications and other data.
And the Chinese have already reacted. A Chinese daily has criticised the agreement saying it could irritate other countries.
“If India hastily joins the US alliance system, it may irritate China, Pakistan or even Russia. It may not make India feel safer, but will bring strategic troubles to itself and make itself a centre of geopolitical rivalries in Asia,” China’s state-run Global Times has said in an editorial.