India's opposition parties express concern over India-US military logistics pact

Cheryl Sanders
September 1, 2016

The U.S. and India signed a military cooperation agreement Monday that will allow both nations the use of each other's land, air and naval bases for fix and replenishment of supplies with streamlined reimbursement.

The LEMOA was "in principal" agreed on during Carter's visit to India in April.

The agreement, viewed as part of the Obama administration's Pivot to Asia strategy, was criticised by a leading Chinese state-run daily, which warned that New Delhi may irritate Beijing if it "joins the U.S. alliance system".

But India has had concerns it would be committed by such an arrangement to hosting United States troops or draw on it into a military alliance with America and sabotage its traditional autonomy.

For the United States, this is one part of the much larger "pivot" to Asia intended by President Obama to meet a rising China.

However, it believes that the agreement would significantly enhance the operational capacity of the Indian armed forces especially during their response to humanitarian crisis or disaster relief.

"Our decision to sign the LEMoA today would make it easier for our armed forces to carry out joint activities, such as training and exercises, as well as HADRmissions", Mr Parrikar told the media in the presence of Mr Carter.

While India has adopted a prudent attitude so far refraining from joining United States alliance, some defence analysts expressed worries that India may lose strategic independence and warned that the pact may render New Delhi a "follower" of Washington, it said. "It's not a basing agreement of any kind, but it does make the logistics of joint operations so much easier and so much more efficient", he said.

The US had earlier supported India's bid to gain entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The Left party alleged that by signing such an agreement, India had acquired the formal status of a military ally of the US.

So LEMOA has been prepared as an India-specific agreement unlike the standard Logistics Support Agreement or (and here's another acronym) the LSA. Carter who was visiting New Delhi at that time and Parrikar had pointed out the proposed agreement only related to provision of logistical support, refuelling facilities, supplies, fix and rest. "However, as the U.S. has shown, there can be no compromise when are faced with terrorism", Mr Parrikar said. However, the carefully written clauses of case by case permission and categorical denial that this is an agreement for sharing of bases meant Modi govt also tried to assuage concerns inside the country that India may be yanked into the global war vortex with US.

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