Why in news?
=>India hosted the much-awaited first-of-its-kind 2+2 dialogue between India and the US in New Delhi.
=>The inaugural dialogue was scheduled to be held in July, but was postponed by US citing “unavoidable reasons”. Earlier, the dialogue was scheduled to be held in April, but was postponed.
What is 2+2 dialogue?
=>The dialogue, similar to India-Japan 2+2 Dialogue between foreign and defence secretaries of the two countries, was agreed upon during Indian Prime Minister’s discussions with US President Donald Trump at the White House in June 2017.
=>It aims to elevate and insulate the India-US strategic relationship from trade and commercial disputes between the two nations and replaces the India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.
Outcomes of the dialogue:
The India-U.S. defence relationship has been given a significant boost with the signing of three agreements:
The two sides also announced the deployment of an Indian liaison officer at the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), which is in charge of naval operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the oil-rich Gulf countries.
What is COMCASA?
=>COMCASA stands for Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement and is one of the four foundational agreements that the U.S. signs with allies and close partners to facilitate inter operability between militaries and sale of high end technology.
=>India had signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002 and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016. The last one remaining is the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA).
=>COMCASA is an India-specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA). It comes into force immediately, and is valid for a period 10 years.
What it means for India?
=>COMCASA allows India to procure transfer specialised equipment for encrypted communications for US origin military platforms like the C-17, C-130 and P-8Is. Currently, these platforms use commercially available communication systems.
=>It would facilitate access to advanced defence systems and enable India to optimally utilize its existing U.S.-origin platforms. Specific additional provisions have been incorporated in the text to safeguard Indian security and national interests.
=>This will also enable greater communications interoperability between the militaries of India and the US. Data acquired through such systems cannot be disclosed or transferred to any person or entity without India’s consent.
=>It will enable Indian military to get a better picture of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) which is seeing increasing Chinese movements.
=>With COMCASA is an India-specific version of CISMOA, Indian armed forces will get to fully exploit the capability of the military platforms procured from the US. For instance, the P-8I reconnaissance aircraft of the Navy which have emerged as a major force multiplier are currently operating at limited capacity.
=>CENTRIXS consists of a collection of coalition wide area networks (WAN) known as enclaves” and is a “great enabler, allowing ship-to-ship operational dialogue between the two nations in text and web-based formats.”
=>As a consequence of CISMOA, India will get access to Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System or CENTRIXS for short which is the secure communication system network of the US.
=>Navy ships with CENTRIXS systems on board can communicate securely with the U.S. Navy when needed and can benefit from the wider situational picture of the region as they have a large number of ships and aircraft deployed..
=>Even within the system there are also specific codes/keys which have to be verified by both sides to enable communication or access information.
=>However, there are persistent concerns that this would allow U.S. Navy access to India’s own secure communication network and also that the information shared with the U.S. will be accessible by Pakistan.
First joint tri services exercise:
=>India and the US have agreed to hold their first joint tri services exercise at the inaugural 2+2 dialogue. This is only the second such tri service exercise to be conducted by India with any other country after Russia. The exercise is scheduled for 2019, to be conducted off India’s eastern coast.
=>The first tri-services exercise with Russia was held in October 2017. The exercise called INDRA-2017 was India’s way of balancing strategic relations with Russia and the US and send a message to China.
=>Before this, INDRA exercises had been conducted only between respective armies, navies and air forces without the concurrent participation from other services.
=>However, while trade was addressed, India did not receive a clear-cut assurance of its GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) status being restored, or of waivers on steel and aluminium tariffs imposed by Washington.
=>Instead, U.S. said clearly that it expect India to increase imports of American oil and gas as well as aircraft in order to wipe out the trade surplus India enjoys. It is unclear whether the Centre has acquiesced to this blatantly anti-free market demand, but its silence on the matter is disturbing.
=>The U.S.’s other demand, to “zero out” oil imports from Iran by November, is simply unreasonable. It would hurt India dearly not only because of costs at a time when the dollar is strengthening and fuel prices are going up, but also in terms of its substantial engagement with Iran.
=>No public statement was made on what the U.S. will do on India’s investment in the Chabahar port once its full sanctions kick in on November 4.
=>Both countries reaffirmed the strategic importance of India’s designation as a Major Defense Partner (MDP) of the United States and committed to expand the scope of India’s MDP status and take mutually agreed upon steps to strengthen defense ties further and promote better defense and security coordination and
=>Both countries welcomed the inclusion of India by the United States among the top tier of countries entitled to license-free exports, re-exports and transfers under License Exception Strategic Trade Authorization (STA-1) and also committed to explore other means to support further expansion in two-way trade in defense items and defense manufacturing supply chain linkages.
=>They also announced their readiness to begin negotiations on an Industrial Security Annex (ISA) that would support closer defense industry cooperation and collaboration.
=>Acknowledging the unique role of technology in the India-U.S. defense partnership, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to continue to encourage and prioritize co-production and co-development projects through the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and to pursue other avenues of defense innovation cooperation.
=>In this regard, they welcomed the conclusion of a Memorandum of Intent between the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and the Indian Defence Innovation Organization – Innovation for Defence Excellence (DIO-iDEX).
=>They denounced any use of terrorist proxies in the region and in this context, they called on Pakistan to ensure that the territory under its control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries. On the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attack, they called on Pakistan to bring to justice expeditiously the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot, Uri and other cross-border terrorist attacks.
Partners in the Indo-Pacific and Beyond:
=>Both sides committed to work together and in concert with other partners toward advancing a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, based on recognition of ASEAN centrality and on respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, rule of law, good governance, free and fair trade, and freedom of navigation and overflight.
=>Noting the importance of infrastructure and connectivity for the Indo-Pacific region, both sides emphasized the need to work collectively with other partner countries to support transparent, responsible and sustainable debt financing practices in infrastructure development.
=>The next 2+2 meeting is to be held in the United States in 2019.
Pic courtesy:New Indian Express
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