india-to-sign-geo-spatial-cooperation-deal-with-the-us-summary

Context: India and the U.S. will sign the last foundational agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) during the 2+2 ministerial dialogue.

Probable agenda of the 2+2 meeting

  • The US brief is clear, to ensure that India (also Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia), makes a strong, public, strategic commitment to the U.S. on its plans in the Indo-Pacific.
    • On the maritime sphere, discussions will surely include strengthening ties in the Indo-Pacific, enhancing joint military exercises like the ‘Malabar’, where the entire Quad including Australia will participate.
  • Other items on the agenda will be the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
    • In the last two meetings, agreements known as LEMOA and COMCASA were signed.
  • Analysing the relations with China
    • It is critical to study just how India hopes to collaborate with the U.S. on the challenge that China poses on each of India’s three fronts: 
      • At the LAC, 
      • In the maritime sphere, and 
      • In the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region surrounding India.
      • India and the U.S. are also expected to take up “specific issues” on security concerns in Asia after the talks.

Other issues of importance

  • Trade issues: 
    • The US needs to commit to restoring India’s Generalised System of Preferences status for exporters. 
  • The Indian government could also press for more cooperation on 5G technology sharing. 
  • India could also focus on getting an assurance that its S-400 missile system purchase from Russia will receive an exemption from the U.S.’s Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions.

‘2+2’ Dialogue 

  • It is a format of dialogue where the defence and foreign ministers meet with their counterparts from another country.
  • India holds such talks with Japan and the US.
  • The US holds such dialogues with Australia and Japan also.

 

Foundational agreements with the US

BECA

  • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement largely pertains to geospatial intelligence and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence. 
  • Geospatial information: Anyone who sails a ship, flies an aircraft, fights wars, locates targets, responds to natural disasters, or even navigates with a cellphone relies on geospatial intelligence.
  • Signing BECA will allow India to use the US’s advanced geospatial intelligence and enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones. 
  • This could be key for Air Force-to-Air Force cooperation. 

LEMOA: 

  • The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement was signed between India and the US in August 2016. 
  • It allows the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases: access supplies and services from the other country’s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed. 
  • This is extremely useful for Navy-to-Navy cooperation since the US and India are cooperating closely in the Indo-Pacific.

COMCASA

  • The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement was signed in September 2018.
  • It allows the US to provide India with its encrypted communications equipment and systems so that Indian and US military commanders, aircraft and ships can communicate through secure networks in peace and war.
  • It is like WhatsApp for the two militaries, which is safe and provides real-time communication.
  • COMCASA paved the way for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India to facilitate “interoperability” between their forces and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secure data links.

Image Source: TH

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Q. Signing of BECA would allow India to use US expertise on geospatial intelligence and to enhance military accuracy of automated hardware systems. Comment (250 words)