Must Read: 2+2 Dialogue=5 : India & US Script “COMCASA Agreement” - The Fearless Indian
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  Must Read: 2+2 Dialogue=5 : India & US Script “COMCASA Agreement”

  • Sukanya Iyer
  • September 10, 2018
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As I Start Penning down my thought Process as usual sipping my Favourite Special Filter coffee, filling me with high Energy Levels, amidst a Vibrant Atmosphere of festivities, in the month of September, wishing you all a great Festive Season.

I would like to begin my Article with a quote from Chanakya—

“Once You Start Working on Something, don’t be afraid of failure & don’t abandon it. People who work sincerely are the Happiest”.

India & US Ink COMCASA Deal at 2+2 Dialogue—A Pact Signed for Co-Operation between Defence Innovation Organizations between the Two Nations. Friends, Before I get into the details of this Dialogue, let me tell you all, what is COMCASA?

 

It’s A Security Agreement between India & US Signed During 2+2 Summit a Boost for Defence Preparedness.  COMCASA Put in Perspective:

Let me Put an end to all the speculations, India & US have signed Communications Compatibility & Security Agreement (COMCASA) on 6th September 2018. There was a Joint Statement with United States Mike Pompeo, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said both Nations have also agreed on working together towards entry of India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). This Landmark Agreement COMCASA, would likely to open the way for Purchase of more Sensitive US Military Equipment to India. The Agreement was reached after Pompeo & US Defence Secretary James ‘Jim’ Mattis met Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman & Swaraj in New Delhi for the Dialogue.  COMCASA comes as a major Boost for India which was designated as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ in 2016 by the US.

The COMCASA which will Give India access to advanced new Defence Systems like armed Drones, & will enable the Armed Forces to Exploit existing US-Origin Platforms much more efficiently, was linked after concerns on Security raised by New Delhi were addressed & Specific assurances given that there would be no Disruptions even it ties take a dive. The COMCASA is an India- Specific agreement in which certain legal arrangements have been added to safeguard Interests. These include an assurance that full access will be maintained for all the equipment’s supplied by US & that it would not disrupt communications or shut the systems down without even an advance notice of at least six months. The US has also agreed upon that no information obtained y it from Indian Platforms equipped with COMCASA -Compliant systems will be shared with a third Party without consent. Its one of the three Foundational Defence Pacts signed.

This Agreement was Pending for 10 long Years. One of the Major reasons for this was the fear that India may compromise its operational Independence. Critics had also pointed out that the agreement could jeopardise India’s established military ties with Russia& Access to their weapons systems. The Agreement is also of Political significance with the General Elections Scheduled to take place next year.  In 2016, BJP Government had to face a lot of criticism from the Opposition Parties for Signing LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in 2016.These Agreements will give India STA status (Strategic Trade Authorization-1) shows the country’s importance in the US Strategic Calculus.

The COMCASA Agreement with the US, a Landmark agreement that has huge implications for India-US Defence & Security relations, India Persisted in its demand for a “Make in India”, component for Defence Trade with the US. Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman & Swaraj made another Pitch with US for the Defence Relationship to be more than a “Buyer-Seller “one. The US reluctantly agreed to put this in the joint statement, which said the two Countries, committed to explore other means to support further expansion in two-way trade in defence Items & Linkages.”  Whether this becomes an Ultimate reality or not will depend on how Defence Manufacturing takes off in India, & whether there is any traction in US, Defence Industry for components from India.  Despite the COMCASA which signals much closer ties with US, Still Indians would like to maintain its own space. Accordingly, the Joint statement stated that the two countries have become Strategic Partners. Both the Nations are also major Independent Stakeholders in World Affairs.

How is this Pact Going to contribute For India?

A Big Takeaway was the Pact that with the US Defence Innovation Unit—Unlike in the Past when the US ‘DARPA, was at the cutting Edge of Innovation which then spread to the Civilian world, more & more Innovations todays are being made in the Civilian world, more & more Innovations today are being made in the Civilian sector, in Silicon Valley, which could have Defence & Security applications. With this agreement, India will have a Presence in this unit in Silicon Valley, hoping to do its bit for the next-Generation Innovation in Defence Technology.  Three India- Specific formulations which distinguishes the COMCASA from the CISMOA- there would be no disruption during the Life-cycle of the Equipment: India Data Generated would not be Disclosed or Transferred, & National Security Concerns would be addressed. But the Purchase of S-400 Missile Defence Systems from Russia was not raised by Indian Side at all.  US Side stated that India would not be sanctioned for its Legacy Platforms. But Fresh Purchases would fall Under the Purview of CAATSA. That would be a Potential Problem. Regarding the Chahbahar Port, India might be able to find a way out, but oil Imports would definitely come under scanner. Most Importantly, there will be no Trade Troubles, that existed with the Trump Administration. The Government will be sending another delegation of officials to see if they can have a Package Trade Deal.

2 Plus 2 Dialogue need not be always 4, it can be more than that, Let Explore—

The Fact that the Two most important Ministers of the United States & India got together to discuss what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the “Next things that are big & Strategic & will go on for more than 20, 40, 50 Years”, is important enough to merit close look by not only the Media analysts within the country, but also by neighbours big & Small. The 2+2 talks are the result of a series of bilateral actions starting with President Clintons Visit to India in 2000. Since then, there have been inter-ministerial meetings on many levels, that were meant to enhance Strategic ties between India & US, alas it didn’t happen. Let’s Face it, from the times of Kautilya & even before the state of relationship between two Nations were determined whether they fought the battle together or against. What we find within this bigger Picture, there are smaller frames, which includes the question of against just what & whom the two were to ‘Defend ‘themselves. In Today’s context, where war includes, Economic, Political, & Foreign Policy measures, not to mention a common ideology to fight on.  What we find both are Vibrant Democracies, with Global ambitions, & the other with Purely regional view as such.  What we find is that the Link between the two worldwide views was apparent in the first significant outcome of the talks, to hold the first-ever tri—service exercise on the East Coast, aimed at synergising the capabilities of both the countries. The fact that it’s on the East Coast is in line with the extent of the operating area of Pacific Command, Now called Indo-Pacific Demand.

Let’s in a Brief Manner analyse India & US Favour Open Ties in Indo-Pacific—

India & US in an Indirect reference to China’s Belt & Road Initiative, on September 7th 2018, announced that they will seek partnership with other Countries for “Transparent, responsible & Sustainable, Debt Financing Practices in Infrastructure Development”. The Long-term goal of BRI & its Opaque Financing model are Pushing countries into the Chinese Debt Financing Trap. Against this Backdrop, the issue of Transparency & Openness was high on the Agenda of Indo-US-2+2 Dialogue. Minister of External Affairs, Ms. Sushma Swaraj, opined “Noting the importance of Infrastructure & Connectivity for the Indo-Pacific region, both sides emphasised the need to work collectively with other Partner Countries to support Transparent, Sustainable, responsible in Debt financing Practices in Infrastructure Development suggested the Joint statement without naming BRI. Both sides expressed their desire to committed work Partnering towards open, advancing free, & Inclusive Indo-Pacific region. On South Asia, the statement read- The Minister Reaffirmed that their shared Commitment to a united, Sovereign Democratic, & Peaceful Afghanistan. The two sides agreed upon extended support for Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, Peace-Process”.

COMCASA & its Effects—

On the one hand, this will lead to India being drawn slowly into the US Defence Industry net. Lockheed Martin is already offering the next generation F-18s. Others are lining up with offers of drones, & Artillery. The Third important aspect was therefore signing up STA-1 is meant to encourage this process, with India now included among the Top Tier Countries in terms of Defence Licensing Exports.  In Joint exercises with the US earlier, the Indian Air Force for instance, was careful to shut off radars & jammers of its Sukhoi’s to prevent Snooping by the US & others. In short its immensely advantageous to have access to US Imagery & communications Intelligence, as long as both are fighting on the same side.  A Long-term Strategic Security relationship is very critical, to ensure freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka or Singapore are hardly among those likely to oppose such a requirement. The Joint however clearly indicates that Delhi is still; Hedging on this. India’s vision of co-operation in the Indian Ocean was laid firmly at the Shangri-La dialogue in June 2018. That statement put the US, Russia, China & ASEAN Countries all in the same basket of Partners through with different layering & Priorities. This is classic diplomatic balancing even while mentioning the issue of Transparent, responsible & sustainable Debt Financing Practices.

After Many years of Hanging, agreement has been reached on quietly opening up the Indian Navy to directly contact not only with their Counterparts in the Pacific Command, but also on the other side of the Indian Ocean.  This joint Commitment will lead to ensure contact between Indian Navy & US Central Command is most welcome. This will Probably lead to more Joint effort to Anti-Piracy & Counter-Terrorism Operations into the West, where the main Concentrations of Terrorist Groups lie. This also includes Detection & Interdiction of Arms Shipments allegedly from Iran to the Houthis. US Sought assistance on two important Issues—

One was the Denuclearisation of Korean Peninsula, a Process which is yet to get in terms of specifics. Yes, No Doubt India will be more interested in the specifics of North Korea, since much of its seems to have originated from Pakistani Nuclear weapons effort during the time of Abdul Qadir Khan, & Probably later in terms of warhead design.   A lot of Persons in Pakistan are not going to welcome this at all.

The Second issue that is likely to raise the brows, Pompeo also looked for Indian Co-operation “to Explore ways to Partner on holding this outlaw regime in Iran responsible for all of its Malign activity”.  In June, Reports stated that oil imports will be cut from Iran to a near zero. In off the Table leaks, Iran also stated the fact that any cuts in imports would result in a lowering of Indian Investment in connectivity Projects like Chahbahar. It’s a test of India’s freedom of action & reliability on the world stage. All in all, agreement draws India more closely into US Defence embrace, even while leaving New Delhi free to conduct Liaisons elsewhere for the moment.  The Advantages to India are undoubtedly are in terms of enhanced access to Technology & also better operational Potentialities. Now Pakistan has to face & feel the Pressure Tactics, as Pompeo making just a pit stop there too.  If suppose let’s assume that China & Russia misses all of these, it will be even more alarming to bureaucracy that had remained largely sheltered by the bipolar order. Meanwhile China, Russia, & Mongolia are planning to hold Tri-service- “Vostok-2018”.3,00,000 Troops exercise, Naval fleets & also involving Airborne divisions. Indian Diplomatic Dialogue is going to be very Intense.

The Ministers also held extensive discussions on expanding counter-Terror agenda, particularly against Pakistan—based LeT. Washington has been acting against LeT cover over the last few Months & it has decided to continue the momentum. The Two have agreed to deepen co-operation in International Forums like UN & Financial Action Task Force.

As I conclude my extensive analysis of 2+2 Dialogue, I feel this a Landmark Deal, with lot of implications. In some ways or the others, it reflects the breakthrough Civil-Nuclear deal that both Nations have signed eight years ago. This move, that underwent the same number of pangs, & took years to sign, reinforcing the key component of strengthening bilateral-A strategic Defence Partnership to balance the Re emergence of Powerful Asia. This deal Bolsters India’s Defence & Enhances its capacity to project power into the Indo-Pacific region.  COMCASA opens the door for a range of US Defence technologies with more Efficient & Secure Eco System.  This deal Pushed into Asian NATO-involving Japan & Australia which is a Peripheral Talking Point. This foundational deal may work as a Catalyst to address the Lacuna (mostly bending Backwards with china)

 

Friends, Here is a Leader who has mastered the Chanakya’s Runn Niti of establishing, enhancing, Strengthening Geo-Political Strategies throughout the world.  The Signing of COMCASA enhances the interoperability between the militaries & Military systems of the two Countries. Expansion of Counter terrorism, co-operation & the naming of Pakistan -based Terror outfits are welcome. I hope My Title 2+2= 5 does now clarify it has more to offer than to 4. A Historic & an Important development to upgrade bilateral ties. India is the third country after Japan & Australia to engage in such a Ministerial Engagements with US. This has happened under the able & Focussed & Visionary leader- our PM Modi, who indeed has Scripted A New Narrative of Nayaa Bharat Nayee Umeed, Indeed a Landmark Deal & Dialogue of INDIA Vikas Ki Aur.

 

Jai Hind

Dr. Sukanya Iyer

 

 

 

 

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