The agreement gives Indian armed forces access to military logistics at any US base across the world; Navy set to gain the most from the pact.

New Delhi: A new military logistics-sharing pact between India and the United States has been quietly operationalised. The pact gives Indian forces access to supplies and spares across the world, and enables US warships and planes to replenish in India.

Small exchanges under the agreement have started, and Indian Navy ships currently on overseas deployment may shortly resupply with American assistance.

Signed in August last year, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) went through bureaucratic red tape, but has finally been sorted out, with processes and procedures to avail the exchange facility detailed by both sides.

What is LEMOA?

The LEMOA provides for:

– Logistics support, supplies, and services – including food, water, billeting, transportation, petroleum, oils, lubricants, clothing, communication services, medical services, storage services, training services, spare parts and components, repair and maintenance services, calibration services, and port services.

– Reciprocal logistics support, which is to be used exclusively during authorised port visits, joint exercises, joint training, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

– Logistics support for any other cooperative efforts is to be provided only on a case-by-case basis through prior mutual consent of the parties, consistent with their respective laws, regulations and policies.

– Provision of logistics support, supplies and services from one party to the other is to be in return for either cash payments, or the reciprocal provision of logistics support, supplies, and services.

Elements already in use

Elements of the LEMOA were used at the Yudh Abhyas exercise in the US this September. Sources said a test project under LEMOA was carried out during the Malabar naval exercise in July this year, when an Indian tanker hooked up with a US destroyer in the Bay of Bengal.

Quietly, India and US operationalise new military logistics sharing pact
Indian and US warships during the Malabar exercise in July 2017

Indian warships that are currently on a long overseas tour through the South China Sea may also benefit from the pact, which gives the Indian military the option to pick up fuel and other supplies from US bases around the world. Indian naval ships Satpura and Kadmatt, which are on eastern deployment, have reached Sasebo, Japan, and will sail all the way up to Russia.

Given the large number of US bases across the world, the Indian Navy will be a big gainer.

Visiting ships and planes will not need to make cash payments for fuel and services. These are simply to be accounted for by either side and, at the end of the year, the balance amount is to be paid.

Signed after more than a decade of discussions, LEMOA does not enable basing facilities by either nation, but has been a political hot potato that the UPA government was unwilling to take forward. Negotiations, however, progressed after the BJP came to power.

LEMOA is one of the foundation agreements that US signs with its major defence partners, others being the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) and the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA).

While talks are on for these two, a breakthrough is yet to be achieved.

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