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US team of experts in Delhi to discuss key military agreement

Published on June 19, 2018
Even after 2 years of the US granting India the status of a ‘Major Defence Partner’ in 2016, no tangible benefits on military technology front have come to India so far.
  • Preparations for the 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of India and the US in Washington next month are in full swing.
  • Starting today that is Monday, till Wednesday, a team of specialists from the Pentagon comprising of lawyers, and policy & technical experts will be meeting their counterparts on the Indian side in Delhi to negotiate the text of a “foundational” military communications agreement.
  • The US officials will try and address Indian observations on the draft Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) submitted earlier.
  • The Indian government in the past was not keen on signing the two other “foundational” agreements — COMCASA and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA).

What should one know about COMCASA:

  • A legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India.
  • It would also facilitate “interoperability” between Indian and US forces and also with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secure data links.
  • It was called the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) before the name was changed to reflect its India-specific nature.
  • Finalisation of the COMCASA text or its signing is not expected during the inaugural 2+2 dialogue in Washington next month.
  • As per the American Officials: The Indian Military is currently dependent on commercially available and less secure communication systems on high-end American platforms like C-130Js and the P8I maritime surveillance aircraft.
  • Signing COMCASA is mandatory if India is to get the armed version of the Sea Guardian drones from Washington.
  • Defence ministry were reluctant in the past about signing the COMCASA as they fear American intrusive access to Indian military communication systems. 
  • Their is also a reasonable fear that a large quantity of Russian-origin and indigenous Indian military platforms may not be compatible with COMCASA.
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