India, US may sign logistics support pact
The US and India have given in-principle approval to a logistics agreement that will allow them to access logistics support from each other. The in-principle approval on Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) was reached during the recent visit of Ashton Carter, US Defence Secretary, to India. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that the final agreement may be signed "in the coming months".
What is LSA?
The Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) allows militaries of each country to use air, naval and land bases for resupplies, repair and rest. American aircraft and warships will be able to access Indian military bases and vice versa. However, it does not allow stationing of US troops on Indian soil or vice versa. This is considered as a big boost to the Indo-US military ties.
Means of military cooperation
LSA along with Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) are foundational agreements used by the US to promote military cooperation with partner countries.
Advantages of LSA to India
The in-principle approval to LSA is regarded as a strategic move that will boost Indo-US defence ties. Utilisation of US military bases will allow Indian forces to operate far beyond the Indian shores which hitherto is not possible due to lack of logistics support. Access to US bases in Djibouti and Diego Garcia will help India assert greater power in the Indian Ocean region.
What does the US stand to gain?
The US has embarked on 'pivot towards Asia' or 'rebalance' doctrine to check the growing assertiveness of China. Under this doctrine, the US is working for greater engagement at political, economic and defence levels with Asia-Pacific countries such as Australia, India, Indonesia, etc. The LSA is a US effort to work with India to ensure peace and prosperity of Asia Pacific region.
What are India's apprehensions?
India is concerned that the pact with the US may undermine India's strategic autonomy. Further, it may be perceived by Russia and China as India's tilt towards the US. Another major concern is as to 'What happens in the case of war?' because by providing logistics support India may indirectly get involved in the war. India uses multi-country platforms and cannot share certain information.