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05 September 2016

India and US Sign Defence Logistics Agreement

In late August US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter and Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar signed an agreement aimed at making, “the logistics of joint operations so much easier and so much more efficient,” according to a statement made by Carter. The signing ceremony took place on 29 August during Parrikar’s visit to Washington, DC.

The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMoA) has taken twelve years to negotiate. The US has standard text in its more usual Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) concluded with over 100 other countries, including NATO allies, but India had significant concerns over being seen to be ‘too close an ally’ of the United States, potentially losing its strategic independence and negotiated hard over modifications to the language. The result is a watered down version of the standard logistics agreement which “does not create any obligations on either Party to carry out any joint activity. It does not provide for the establishment of any bases or basing arrangements,” as an Indian Defence Ministry statement makes clear.

Nevertheless, the agreement marks an important step, under which both parties undertake to provide much easier and simpler access to each other's bases, logistical support, refuelling, supplies and other such services on a reimbursable basis. China views the agreement with suspicion, concerned that the US may use India for basing maritime forces in the same manner as it has in South Korea.
The two leaders also decided to significantly expand the scope and activities of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative, further solidifying US-Indian links and exchanges in defence technology – an important step for the industries of both nations.