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” Security ” Special Aero India 2017 Edition¬†
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SOURCE: TNN

The much-ballyhooed logistics pact between India and the US, which will allow reciprocal access to each other’s military bases for refuelling, repair and maintenance of warships and aircraft, is yet to enter into force despite being inked seven months ago.

Slow decision-making, bureaucratic bottlenecks and complex accounting procedures, much more from the Indian side than the US one, have held up the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) from becoming operational till now.

Sources, however, said the Indian defence ministry was “now close to finalising the intricate accounting procedures” under which the two militaries will provide each other with logistical support on “equal-value exchange and reimbursable basis”.

It was much easier for the US, which has similar pacts with its allies and others as well as unified theatre commands to handle different parts of the globe, to work out the operational details and submit its “points of contact” list to India.

However, India, with separate budgets and accounting procedures for the Army, Navy and IAF in the absence of unified commands, has found the going tough since the LEMOA was inked on August 29 last year.

“The complex arrangement on how India will pay had to be worked out. But it should now be finalised and approved in a month or so,” said a source.

The LEMOA represents yet another major milestone in the ever-tightening bilateral strategic clinch, which has seen the US bag arms deals worth $15 billion from India as well as the two militaries conduct a flurry of combat exercises over the last decade.

But the Modi government, wary of being accused of compromising India’s traditional strategic autonomy, has taken pains to repeatedly stress that LEMOA will not entail any basing rights or permanent stationing of US troops on Indian soil.

India is also in no tearing hurry to ink the other two “foundational agreements”, in addition to LEMOA, which are being pushed by the US for over 15 years now.These are the Communications Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA), and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA).

“India is keen on further building interoperability between the two forces but it has to follow capacity-building,” said an official. While some military officers say working closely with the US is aneffective way of balancing the long-term threat from China, critics contend the “foundational pacts” will impact adverselythe strategic partnership with Russia.
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