News Analysis |
A military-information sharing pact, which will give India access to the US technology to keep an eye on China and the neighborhood, was signed at the 2+2 bilateral summit, with officials saying that adequate safeguards have been put in place to ensure security interests. Among other things, it was decided to conduct a new tri-Services joint exercise on the east coast next year.
Also, a new pact was signed for cooperation between the defense innovation organizations of the two nations. The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), which will give India access to advanced new defense systems like armed drones and will enable the armed forces to exploit existing US-origin platforms much more efficiently, was inked after concerns on security raised by New Delhi were addressed and specific assurances given that there would be no disruptions even if ties take a dive.
LEMOA, COMCASA, and BECA, or Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation, are the three foundational defense pacts that a country needs to sign to obtain cutting-edge weapons and communications systems from the US. India hopes to move ahead on BECA too in near future.
A senior official said,” Instead of the general agreement that the US has signed with its key partners, the COMCASA is an India-specific agreement in which ‘certain legal arrangements’ have been added to safeguard interests. These include an assurance that full access will be maintained for all equipment supplied by the US and that it would not disrupt communications or shut the systems down without an advance notice of at least six months. The US has also agreed that no information obtained by it from Indian platforms equipped with COMCASA-compliant systems will be shared with a third party without consent.”
The salient points of COMCASA are:
- COMCASA allows two countries to share high end encrypted communication and satellite data.
- When a US warship or aircraft detects a Chinese warship or submarine, the Indian Navy will now get to know instantly through the transmission of secure encrypted data to a receiver installed at Naval Headquarters in New Delhi.
- The agreement will help give a legal framework for defense technology transfer.
- Signing COMCASA allows India to acquire Sea Guardian drones, which can detect and target enemy warships.
India has already signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the US. With the singing of COMCASA, India has gone one more step ahead in strengthening India-US military ties. LEMOA, COMCASA, and BECA, or Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation, are the three foundational defense pacts that a country needs to sign to obtain cutting-edge weapons and communications systems from the US. India hopes to move ahead on BECA too in near future.
Pakistan will have to face tougher challenges if the US and India choose to actively pursue their strategic objectives in South Asia. COMCASA may cause Pakistan, China, Russia, and Iran to realign and reevaluate their relationship both with India and each other.
The offering of American military information and technology seems to be an attempt to wean India off from Russian equipment. India’s decision to sign COMCASA comes at a time when the United States has voiced its opposition to India’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile shield since it violates the US Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act.
No decision has been made in the 2+2 talks on the S-400. The rupees multibillion deal with Russia to procure a batch of S-400 Triumf air defense missile systems is stuck in a flux with the looming threat of US sanctions. The pact, which will be valid for 10 years, however, does not commit India to any acquisition from the US. “This is an enabling agreement and does not commit us to any acquisition,” a senior official said.
COMCASA is a serious threat to Pakistan. Among other things, COMCASA will effectively mean India sharing the real-time American intelligence on military deployments by China and Pakistan. Such information will be vital for Indian war plans and strikes against Pakistan. The procurement of US military technology will upgrade the already quantitatively superior military threat from India.
Already in the 2+2 talks, India and the US urged Pakistan to “ensure that its territory is not used to launch terror attacks and bring to justice perpetrators of acts of terrorism, especially in Mumbai, Uri, and Pathankot.” It seems that both nations have begun to see Pakistan in a combined view as a source of terror.
Iran too seems to have been targeted in the meet. Keeping in view the ever-changing geopolitical and geostrategic realities, Pakistan has to re-evaluate and reformulate its foreign policy as well as security policy in the region. Obviously, it can no longer afford to stay isolated in the region. Pakistan will have to face tougher challenges if the US and India choose to actively pursue their strategic objectives in South Asia. COMCASA may cause Pakistan, China, Russia, and Iran to realign and reevaluate their relationship both with India and each other.