India unsure on defence pact with US

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member
Notwithstanding the growing defence ties between India and the US, New Delhi has yet again expressed reservations on signing all three US-suggested defence agreements.
Sources told The Tribune that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who will be on a seven-day visit to the US starting December 4, will convey to his counterpart Ashton Carter India’s reservations on one of agreements. In other words there could be progress on the other two.
Apart from this, the key agenda of Parrikar will be to question the US military and foreign policy towards Pakistan, sources said. The US and Pakistan are allies since the Cold War (1945 to 1991). The US had declared several Pakistan-based organisations as terror organisations but has string relationship with its military.
On the US-trip Parrikar will make history of sorts. He will become the first Indian Defence Minister to visit the Hawaii-based headquarters of the US Pacific Command (PACOM). The head of the PACOM is the most powerful military commander on earth, commanding almost 60 per cent of the US Navy — including six sea-borne aircraft carriers.
As per US demarcations, it oversees 52 per cent of the planet and is in touch with 36 countries, including China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, Vietnam, among others.
The issue of defence agreements was raised again by the US on February 26 after a lapse of three years when Washington made clear the importance of signing three “foundational agreements” on defence between the two countries, saying this will come in “handy” when transferring technology to India.
Senior Pentagon official Frank Kendall, the US-appointed pointsman for the much-talked-about Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), was in New Delhi to meet his counterpart, G Mohan Kumar, secretary, Defence Production. Kumar is now the Defence Secretary.
The agreements are: Communications interoperability and security memorandum of agreement (CISMOA), basic exchange and cooperation agreement for geo-spatial cooperation (BECA) and the logistics support agreement (LSA).
In the US, around the same time, Kenneth Handelman, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Defence Trade Controls) in the US State Department, said these were necessary.
“DTTI has progressed in the absence of the foundational agreements... but at some point, the foundational agreements are going to be an issue”. In 2010, then Defence Minister AK Antony had rejected outright the signing of these three agreements and even termed these “intrusive”.