India and United States will sign an anticipated agreement on military logistics cooperation later this month during Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar’s scheduled visit to the United States.
The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), which was finalized earlier this year during Parrikar’s visit to the United States, will be signed between Parrikar and his U.S. counterpart, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Parrikar will arrive in the United States on August 29 for a two day visit. U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James will visit India before Parrikar’s visit.
The agreement, which was first mooted in the early 2000s, will enable reciprocal access to and reimbursement for supplies and services for each country’s armed forces. It is one of three so-called “foundational” agreements, along with the Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
In practical terms, LEMOA will formalize and generalize existing logistics cooperation between the two countries, which India has assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Opposition parties in India criticized the current Indian government for finalizing LEMOA, perceiving it as a breach of Indian sovereignty even though New Delhi, like Washington, will retain the ability to opt out of specific logistics assistance requests, for example, during wartime.
LEMOA mostly greases the bureaucratic wheels to facilitate exchange and reimbursement when it is deemed necessary and acceptable by both countries.
For India, one of the benefits of LEMOA would be that its Navy would have access to U.S. port facilities in the Indian Ocean region, including Diego Garcia.
In recent years, defense cooperation between India and the United States has grown. Last fall, the two countries renewed their defense framework for a decade.
Washington and New Delhi are further exploring cooperation on defense technology, including possibly the sale of advanced U.S. aircraft carrier technology to India.