The United States and India signed a new India to access and use each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply services.
The move has been seen in part as a preparatory response to China’s expansion in the South China Sea. China’s maritime growth has troubled many of its neighbours in the area, with countries like the Philippines and Vietnam strongly contesting China’s claim to the disputed waters.
LEMOA facilitates the exchange and provision of logistical support, services, and supplies between the US and Indian militaries, and will be done so on a reimbursable basis with an established framework for governing. The US will share its defense technology with India to a level commensurate with the US’s closest allies. LEMOA supports a case-by-case basis for mutual base sharing, with both countries stressing that the agreement will not result in permanent basing facilities.
The issue regarding the permanent basing of troops is one of the reasons why the pact took around 12 years to finalize, as it was something India would not agree to. LEMOA, however, does not permit the US to base its troops in India and is being approached simply as a day-to-day military logistics solution.
The US and Indian navies will be the first to test the practicality of the agreement. It’s believed that LEMOA will ensure quicker and more robust naval support during joint operations and exercises, in addition to when humanitarian assistance is required.
The US and India are also in the process of signing two other agreements; a secure communications pact and a nautical and military data exchange pact. It seems that both countries are committed to building a stronger military relationship. US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter has met with Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar six times so far in 2016, and has stated that he has spent more time with Parrikar than any other defense counterpart. As China continues to flex its military muscles even in the face of international criticism, it seems that the US and India are realising the value of their combined military assets.
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