US-India relations: Military
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
US and India: “Major Defence Partners”
The Times of India, Dec 8, 2016
HIGHLIGHTS India and the United States vowed to expand the bilateral defence cooperation
A powerful US Congressional conference committee had on November 30 asked Carter and the secretary of state to take steps necessary to recognise India as America's major defence partner
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with US Secretary of Defense Ashton B Carter in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI photo)Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with US Secretary of Defense Ashton B Carter in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI photo) NEW DELHI: India and the United States on Thursday vowed to expand the bilateral defence cooperation as outgoing American defence secretary Ashton Carter met his counterpart Manohar Parrikar here for the record breaking seventh time and termed New Delhi as a "major defence partner". "Thank you my friend," Carter told Parrikar as both met at the South Block here. Carter said that this is the seventh meeting that he was having meeting with Parrikar. "He is the defence minister with whom I have met for the maximum number of times," he said emphasising the importance that US puts on its ties with India. During the meeting, which was more of a thanksgiving one, Carter said, "Today our defence relationship takes a major step as we designate India as a major defence partner."
A powerful US Congressional conference committee had on November 30 asked Carter and the secretary of state to take steps necessary to recognise India as America's major defence partner in a bid to strengthen bilateral security cooperation.
The provision mentioned in the voluminous Congressional conference report, running into more than 3,000 pages, on $618 billion National Defence Authorisation Bill (NDAA), also asked the defence secretary and the secretary of state for an assessment of the extent to which India possesses capabilities to support and carry out military operations of mutual interest of the two countries. It now needs to be formally passed by the two chambers of the Congress -- the House of Representatives and Senate -- before US President Barack Obama can sign it into law. Meanwhile, Parrikar said he appreciated Carter's strong commitment to defence partnership. "It is not an exaggeration that our defence relations are a major driver in our bilateral relations," he said adding Carter's conceptualisation of the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) shows his interest in bilateral defence cooperation.
Parrikar said he was happy to see conclusion of discussion on major defence partnership. "During our meeting over the last few years, we have agreed on practical exchanges such as LMEOA," the defence minister said.
He added, "I am confident that the defence cooperation will expand on the foundation you have built". Carter replied saying that both countries have more to do in the years ahead.
"I am proud of what we have achieved my friend," he said. US President-elect Donald Trump has nominated James Mattis, a retired 4-star Marine Corps general, for the post of the US defence secretary.
Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI)
2012-18: no concrete results
Though Big Arms Supplier To India, America Yet To Co-Develop Weapons
The much-touted Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) finalised between India and the US six years ago to jointly develop and produce futuristic weapon systems and technologies, as part of their expanding strategic partnership, has failed to deliver any major concrete results till now.
Though the co-production of advanced military helicopters and infantry combat vehicles as well as cooperation in aircraft carrier technologies remain on the table, another big-ticket project to collaborate on fighter jet engines has nosedived. “But a relatively smaller project to co-develop Sealink Advanced Analysis (S2A) systems to track vessels and enhance maritime domain awareness is close to finalisation now,” said an official.
The US remains one of the biggest arms suppliers to India, having bagged contracts for direct sales worth $17 billion just over the last decade. Several other deals, including the $2.1 billion one for 24 naval multi-role MH-60 ‘Romeo’ helicopters and the $1 billion acquisition of the American National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II, are also in the pipeline.
But the DTTI’s professed aim to transform the bilateral “buyer-seller” relationship into co-development and production of weapon systems has remained a pipedream, with both Indian and the United States officials privately admiting “disappointment” with the progress made under the DTTI of 2012. India was very keen on the jet engine project, having failed to develop the indigenous Kaveri engine despite spending Rs 2,839 crore on it since 1989, but it hit an insurmountable roadblock earlier this year. “The US refused to share some key technologies we wanted,” said an Indian official.
A US official, however, said, “What we offered India was far more than what we have ever offered to any other country.”
The new relationship: ten highlights/ 2016
The Times of India, April 14, 2016
US troops can use Indian bases: 10 things to know
India and the US agreed "in principle" to a logistics exchange agreement to enable both militaries to use each other's assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies. Here are 10 things to know:
1. Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)
LEMOA is a tweaked version of Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) which facilitates the provision of logistical support, supplies and services between the US military and the armed forces of partner countries. American aircraft and warships will soon be able to access Indian military bases and vice versa for refuelling, repair and other logistical purposes.
2. Shift from the UPA regime
LEMOA is a shift from the policy of the UPA regime. Then defence minister A K Antony, backed by the Left and others, had opposed the three foundational pacts: Logistics Support Agreement, Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) - on the grounds that they would "compromise" India's traditional strategic autonomy and give "basing rights" to the US military in the country.
3. No stationing of US troops on Indian soil
Manohar Parrikar and his US counterpart Ashton Carter stressed that Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) did not entail stationing of any US troops on Indian soil, even as officials added that India will not extend support in the event of any US military action against "friendly countries". "We can refuse access to our bases whenever we want," said an official.
4. No military alliance against China
Top Indian officials clarified that the "reciprocal" logistics pact was just meant to facilitate military cooperation and not aimed at forging any sort of a military alliance against China.
5. Boost to Delhi-Washington military ties
The US is the largest arms supplier to India over last 4 years. The US has bagged Indian arms contracts worth over $14 billion since 2007 and more are in pipeline. India and the US hold several military exercises every year. IAF fighters and aircraft are on way for Red Flag exercise in Alaska from April 28.
6. Collaboration on carrier
India and US are also advancing collaboration in aircraft carrier design and technology, potentially the biggest joint project since they launched a Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) in 2012. India, which operates a re-tooled Russian-built carrier, plans to build its biggest indigenous carrier, for which is it looking at US technology to launch heavier aircraft. "We have decided to take forward discussions under DTTI more aggressively on key areas such as jet engine technology. We will also continue our very useful and productive discussions on cooperation ... on aircraft carriers," Parrikar said.
7. Boost to US's 'Asia pivot'
US has increasingly turned its focus to Asia as it tries to counter China's growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, and is eager for India to play a greater role in its network of regional defence alliances.A senior US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said China was "operating more frequently both throughout Southeast Asia and in the Indian Ocean", something both Washington and New Delhi were "watching closely".
8. Maritime security cooperation
India and the US will also further bolster maritime security cooperation, which will include stepping up the complexity of its combat exercises and talks on anti-submarine warfare, but there are no plans for joint naval patrols in the contentious South China Sea or elsewhere. "India has not changed its stand (on joint patrols)," defence minister Manohar Parrikar said.
9. Boost to 'Make in India'
India, the world's biggest arms importer, wants access to US technology so it can develop sophisticated weapons at home - a key part of PM Modi's "Make in India" campaign to boost domestic manufacturing. US defence secretary Ashton Carter also held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Tuesday as part of his three-day visit, aimed at shoring up security and defence ties with regional power India.
10. Indian Ocean
India and US will work closely together in the Indian Ocean. Indian forces rarely operate far away from their shores but access to US bases in Djibouti and Diego Garcia could be useful.
Obama has signed into law the $618 billion defence budget for 2017.
The defence bill "enhances security cooperation" between the US and India.
Pakistan will have to act against Haqqani terror network to get nearly 50% of US aid.
US President Barack Obama has signed into law the $618 billion defence budget for 2017, which enhances security cooperation with India and conditions nearly half of the funding to Pakistan on a certification that it is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani Network.
Currently vacationing in Hawaii, Obama on Friday signed the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017, which asks defence secretary and secretary of state to take steps necessary to recognise India as America's "major defence partner".
A summary of the bill released by chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain said NDAA-2017 "enhances security cooperation" between the US and India.
It also asks the administration to designate an individual within the executive branch who has experience in defence acquisition and technology to reinforce and ensure, through inter-agency policy coordination, the success of the Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship; and to help resolve remaining issues impeding US-India defence trade, security cooperation, and co-production and co-development opportunities.
The NDAA, which among other things creates a USD 1.2 billion Counter-ISIL Fund, imposes four conditions on Pakistan to be eligible for $400 million of the $900 million of the coalition support fund (CSF).
The US defence secretary needs to certify to the Congress that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations that are contributing to significantly disrupting the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani Network in Pakistan and that Islamabad has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network from using any of its territory as a safe haven.
Early in 2016, US defence secretary Ashton Carter refused to give a similar certification to Pakistan due to which it was not given $300 million under coalition support fund. In his signing statement, Obama did not mention to any of these provisions of the bill, but he did expressed disappointment over certain other provisions in NDAA-2017.
He said: "I remain deeply concerned about the Congress's use of the National Defence Authorisation Act to impose extensive organisational changes on the department of defence, disregarding the advice of the department's senior civilian and uniformed leaders.
"The extensive changes in the bill are rushed, the consequences poorly understood, and they come at a particularly inappropriate time as we undertake a transition between administrations. These changes not only impose additional administrative burdens on the department of defence and make it less agile, but they also create additional bureaucracies and operational restrictions that generate inefficiencies at a time when we need to be more efficient."
2017, some bi-lateral agreements
India-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), arms deals, C-17 Globemaster-III, some facts
ndia-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), joint projects, F-16 or F/A 18 fighter production line, NBC warfare protection gear, some facts
India-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), bilateral pacts, some facts
India-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), combat exercises, some facts
2017, Bilateral military partnership
Bilateral military partnership, India-US, as on Sep 20, 2017
Ties improve markedly
The UPA had stonewalled attempts by the US to ink the three so-called "foundational military agreements" during its 10-year tenure on the ground that it would "compromise the strategic autonomy" of India
The NDA govt inked the first one on reciprocal logistics support - Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with India-specific safeguards in 2016.
The strategic clinch with the US is set to get even tighter, with India signaling its readiness to ink two more bilateral military pacts, procure helicopters worth $3 billion and participate in a joint tri-Service amphibious exercise for the first time. Top government sources say “substantial progress” has now been made towards finalizing the Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA) + and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) between the two countries.
The previous UPA regime had stonewalled all attempts by the US to push for the inking of the three so-called “foundational military agreements” during its 10-year tenure on the ground that it would “compromise the strategic autonomy” of India. But the NDA government went ahead and inked the first one on reciprocal logistics support -- Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) — with India-specific safeguards in 2016. +
Now, the stage is being set for the other two, COMCASA and BECA, which the US contends will allow India more access to advanced military technologies and platforms with encrypted communications like Predator-B and MQ-9 Reaper drones.
“The broad contours of COMCASA have been finalized…only some text-based negotiations are left. The BECA draft is also under discussion. We have insisted on India-specific assurances, much like what was done in LEMOA, and a status on par with its closest allies,” said a source.
This comes ahead of the first India-US “two-plus-two” dialogue between foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman with their American counterparts, Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis, in Washington on July 6.
Sources say the two countries have also decided to hold their first-ever mega tri-Service amphibious exercise to supplement the flurry of wargames they already hold every year from the top-notch naval Malabar (with Japan as the third participant) to the counter-terror Vajra Prahar and Yudh Abhyas between their armies.
This will be only the second time India will deploy assets and manpower from its Army, Navy and IAF together for an exercise with a foreign country, after the Indra wargames were held with Russia at Vladivostok last year.
The US, of course, remains keen to make further inroads into the lucrative Indian arms market, having already bagged deals worth $15 billion over the last decade. While the US hard-sell to set up a F/A-18 “Super Hornet” or a F-16 fighter production line in India in still in a preliminary stage, India has virtually finalized the acquisition of six more Boeing Apache attack helicopters for $930 million and 24 Sikorsky S-70B multi-role naval choppers with potent anti-submarine warfare capabilities for around $2 billion.
The IAF, incidentally, is slated to induct 12 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers in the 2019-2020 timeframe under the contracts inked for them, worth Rs 13,952 crore and Rs 8,048 crore respectively, in September 2015.
India, however, remains miffed about the new US sanctions regime called CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanction Act) that targets countries buying weapon systems from Russia. As reported earlier by TOI, India and Russia are working to get around CAATSA because they have new defence projects worth over $12 billion hanging in the balance as well as the operational need to maintain the huge inventory of Russian-origin equipment held by the Indian armed forces.
Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) signed
India and the United States sealed the landmark Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that will lead to a new generation of bilateral military partnership.
Apart from the agreement that was signed at the end of the inaugural India-U.S. ‘2+2’ Ministerial Dialogue, both sides also called on Pakistan to stop terrorist strikes on ‘other countries’ and urged for maritime freedom in the Indo-Pacific region.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James N. Mattis led the American delegation, and the Indian team was headed by their counterparts Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman.
“They welcomed the signing of a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement that will facilitate access to advanced defence systems and enable India to optimally utilise its existing U.S.-origin platforms,” a Joint Statement issued at the end of the bilateral dialogue declared.
2019: a deepening of ties
Disproportionate demands made by Washington compared to what it is willing to offer remain a sticky issue, say officials
A high-level team of officials from the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office is in India to talk to its counterpart in the Commerce and Industry Ministry to try and conclude the on-going mini-trade package talks.
“The US Trade Representative and Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal could not finalise the trade package during the Indian Minister’s recent visit to Washington due to some sticking issues related to market access for certain items for the US and restrictions on pricing for medical equipment. The USTR team that is visiting India this week will try to find a solution to these issues,” a government official told BusinessLine.
The disagreement is likely to be over the disproportionate demands made by the US compared to what it wants to offer India in the package, the official added. The US wants India to lower import duties on items such as mobile phones, high-end motorbikes like Harley Davidsons, apples, almonds and dairy items and also lower pricing restrictions for medical equipment manufacturers.
India’s demands are mostly defensive. It wants Washington to restore Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) benefits for its exporters that was withdrawn earlier this year and roll-back unilateral import duties imposed on aluminium and steel last year. It is also hopeful of getting increased market access for certain agricultural goods, including fruits and vegetables.
‘Optimistic of solution’
According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India is optimistic that a solution will be found soon to the complex issues being discussed as part of the mini-trade package with the US.
“There have been discussions between the two sides on trade since the two leaders (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump) met and instructed their officials to find a solution to the trade issues. There have been discussions since then. These matters are complex. We remain optimistic that a solution be be found soon,” said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson, MEA.
The Trump government has been vocal in its disappointment over the high trade deficit it has with India and despite steps being taken by New Delhi to lower it over the last two years by importing more oil and gas and other items, Washington still remains dissatisfied.
The US is one of India’s largest trading partners and bilateral trade is projected to grow to $238 billon by 2025 from about $90 billion at present, acccording to the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum estimates.