• Parrikar to meet Carter today

By Sangeeta Saxena
New Delhi. 29 August 2016. With a lot of unfinished agenda on the plate Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is all set to meet his American counterpart Ashton Carter at the Pentagon today.

Taking up from where India and US left last when Modi was in Washington, transfer of technology to India ,Make in India and Pakistan led terrorism, should be the prime in the discussions between the two leaders.
A Pentagon statement informed that Carter will host an enhanced honour cordon to welcome Parrikar to the US Defence Department headquarters. Following the arrival ceremony there will be a wreath laying ceremony at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. After the ceremony there will be a bilateral meeting followed by a joint press conference at the Pentagon.

Carter has been continuously reieterating that India-US defence ties as an integral part of US policies in the Asia-Pacific, which he considered the single most consequential region for America’s future. Also the US CINCPAC chief admiral Harris had proposed joint patrols in the South China Sea at the Raisina dialogue in Delhi last year which Parrikar chose to reject immediately then. US could also keep South China Sea on its priority in these talks.

Unmanned systems should form an important agenda as the US major General Atomics has selling Predator to India top on its India strategy. It is no rocket science to decipher that India is very impressed by the use of predator drones in northern Pakistan and is a willing market for the company. Also it will help protect India’s maritime interests. This could speeden up the issue.

Another important agenda during Parrikar’s visit will be the Indian Navy’s requirements of the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) for aircraft carriers. This is again a General Atomics technology.

The signing of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) for exchange of military logistics services between India and the US which is pending, could see the light of the day. LEMOA has been especially tailored for India, following negotiations for over a decade. The US gave a final draft in January, and a team of Pentagon lawyers flew to Delhi for negotiations in February. During Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter’s visit in April, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced an in-principle approval to sign the LEMOA, pending a final exchange of drafts. Those have now been exchanged, and the Joint Statement says the LEMOA text has been finalised by the two sides. It will be signed once India completes its process, which is mainly about approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security. Could be the time has come.

LEMOA allows each military to avail logistics support facilities — fuel, spare parts, mechanics, etc. — of the other while on joint training, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), and port calls. The agreement lays out the procedure for billing for these facilities as part of a larger accounting transaction, and details are contained in the clarifying protocols annexed to LEMOA.

Under LEMOA, while Indian logistics support will be available to the US military, Indian armed forces will benefit from access to a large number of US military bases globally, particularly while undertaking HADR missions in a diaspora crisis. It will allow India to respond promptly to emerging situations or humanitarian crises, and will expand Indian military’s operational environment globally.

CISMOA and BECA too can be followed up during the visit. CISMOA (Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement) and BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement would promote interoperability between the US and Indian militaries as CISMOA and BECA would help India to make better use of equipments it has already procured from the US e.g. boeing c-17. LSA would allow each other to access their military bases without any conflict for e.g in 1991 Gulf war India denied the US from refueling its aircraft from Indian territory. But India has been skeptic about these as it has apprehensions of loosing its military neutrality stand .

Parrikar will visit the Cyber Command, Andrews Air Force Base and the Langley Air Force Base over the next two days. He will also visit Boeing facility in Philidelphia on 31st August.

“This will be Carter’s sixth meeting with Parrikar, and comes just weeks after India was designated a major defence partner of the United States during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s June visit to Washington,” the Pentagon said.
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