[Yesterday’s threat came from the Chinese/Pakistani side, delivered by another “Expert”, predicting “united steps” to any hostility which jeopardizes the CPEC project (China, Pakistan may counter any Indian disruption to CPEC). Considering the ongoing provocations by the US Navy in the S. China Sea, and the following report on the relocation of US forces, China may be giving some serious thought to some sort of military preemption right now.]
“The U.S. Navy plans to deploy 60 percent of its surface ships in the Indo-Pacific in the near future. “
Around August 30, in Washington, India and the U.S. will sign a major war pact that makes them logistical allies against, among others, the superpower China currently making a bold power grab in the South China Sea.
Specifically, Indian Defense Mister Manohar Parrikar will sign the deal during a two-day visit in Washington. The deal is the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), a foundational agreement for India and the U.S.. In this instance, the agreement provides for each to use the other globally for supplies, spare parts, services and refueling. Effectively, U.S. armed forces can operate out of Indian bases, and vice versa, on a simple basis.
For the U.S., this is part of the “pivot” to Asia intended by President Obama to meet a rising China. The U.S. Navy plans to deploy 60 percent of its surface ships in the Indo-Pacific in the near future. Instead of having to build facilities virtually from the ground up, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. has the benefit of simple arrangements for the tremendous Indian facilities.
For Prime Minister Modi, it is a major step for India away from its Cold War alliance with Russia, toward a new alliance with the U.S. (and Japan and Australia) to protect the Indian Ocean and the seas off Southeast Asia, especially from China. India remains on hostile terms with China from border disputes dating back to a war in the 1960s. And, the gigantic engines of their economies are, for the most part, rivals.
For both the U.S. and India, LEMOA responds to the powerful challenge of Xi Jinping’s artificial islands – with air bases — in the South China Sea. It may also matter against the common enemy of the U.S. and India in radical jihadists.
For example, ISIS recently carried out a terror bombing in Bangladesh. What if ISIS got a substantial ground effort going, not as much as their “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, but on the substantial scale of their effort in Egyptian Sinai and Libya? Having LEMOA makes it much simpler for American naval and air forces to fight there. The U.S. does not have actual bases in India. But, it has the next best thing – a simple way to use India’s bases.
LEMOA is the key way-station on agreements still to come of military technology sharing of tremendous importance for India, again, primarily to help it stand up to the emerging superpower of China. One upcoming deal is the Communications and Information Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA). Another, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Intelligence (BECA).
With prior pacts, thru LEMOA, ultimately to CISMOA and BECA, India increasingly can either buy (and use), from the U.S or others, or make itself, top-of-the-line technology for its air force and navy to stand up to China’s, particularly in the Indian Ocean. Pakistan, it must not be forgotten, is making itself a base for Beijing’s forces to operate in its region. Modi has made India a tremendous buyer of advanced weaponry. The U.S. is by far the world’s largest seller of weapons.
There are prior deals and policies here. The U.S. recognized India as a Major Defense Partner. It brought India into the Missile Technology Control Regime. Among other aspects, the various deals expedite India obtaining the keys to the kingdom, namely, licenses for top U.S. defense technology. In other words, U.S. contractors are getting, through LEMOA as through prior deals, a much better launching pad from which to sell many billions of dollars of top-of-the-line armament to India. Conversely, India often requires a degree of coproduction domestically, so LEMOA and other deals will help India grow as a gigantic weapons dealer itself, selling to the rest of the world.
All these arms matter in many friction points. Take the nasty Islamist terrorist organization, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM). Pakistan’s powerful and dangerous intelligence arm, ISI, uses JEM against India, but it is also among a group of organizations backed by ISI that the U.S. considers a U.S. enemy, too. JEM’s chief is Masood Azhar. India tried unsuccessfully to tag Azhar at the United Nations as a terrorist. Who blocked it? China. So while the South China Sea may seem far off from India, China is breathing down India’s neck, up close and personal
The U.S. did not make the bellicose move in the South China Sea. Xi Jinping did. There are many downsides to an arms races. But if we do not move, we lose. We have little choice but to play catchup.