Implementation of India-US defence logistics pact ‘facing delays’
Implementation of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) between India and the US, which is expected to take defence ties between the two to the next level, is likely to face significant delays even as America considers India a ‘major defence partner’.
“It takes multiple years to get ships to work together whether it is passing fuel or parts or helping with aircraft. That will take a number of years to arrange that. We are waiting for the final points of contact,” said Joseph P. Aucoin, Commander, US Seventh Fleet. Aucoin, who is on a visit to India, met Navy Chief Sunil Lanba here on Friday. He said that the US Navy is currently doing a feasibility study of sorts of some of the major Indian port before the pact is fully implemented. According to him, the US is waiting for India to inform them.
“They have there own bureaucratic processes to work through as we have. We are waiting for them to reciprocate on points of contact. The US has already sent its own list of points of contact to the Indian government,” he said.
LEMOA is one of the three foundational pacts that US signs with all its crucial defence allies. It is commonly known as Logistics Services Agreement.
The pact entails exchange of logistics support and supplies that are generally required during combined exercises, port calls and cooperative efforts in unforeseen exigencies like in a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief situation. It facilitates the provision of services and support that either party may need when in an out-of-country situation. It also ensures that the financial transactions and billing is correct and timely.
The LEMOA was signed in August between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter. According to the Ministry of Defence, India stands to benefit from the pact in case there is a need for seeking assistance for its military while in transit through US bases.
On the issue of South China Sea dispute, he said the US is in support of open lines of sea communications.
Aucoin also said that the US was keen to expand the Malabar joint trilateral navy exercise that is being held annually among the US, India and Japan. As a result, he said, US wants to do more anti-submarine exercises.
However, he said for more countries such as Australia and China to join the exercise, the decision will be taken jointly by US, India and Japan