With Thursday’s Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), India has concluded three of the four foundational agreements with the U.S. that had been planned for years.
India has already signed two of them – General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002 and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016.
The COMCASA will allow the U.S. to transfer specialised equipment for encrypted communications for U.S.-origin platforms like C-17, C-130 and P-8I aircraft. It comes into force immediately and is valid for 10 years. Sources said a person-in-charge will be specially designated in U.S. Central Command for coordination between India and the U.S. on this.
Officials said the government had negotiated an India-specific agreement and “specific additional provisions” had been incorporated in the text to safeguard security and national interests.
“While the text of COMCASA is confidential, we have ensured that we have full access to the relevant equipment and there will be no disruptions. Data acquired through such systems cannot be disclosed or transferred to any person or entity without India’s consent. Both countries will implement this agreement in a manner that is consistent with the national security interests of the other,” an official source said. India and the U.S. will also hold a first-ever tri service joint exercise on the east coast of India in 2019, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced.
Role for private sector
Ms. Sitharaman and Secretary of Defence James N. Mattis also announced their readiness to begin negotiations on an Industrial Security Annex (ISA) that would allow Indian private sector to collaborate with the U.S. defence industry.
The GSOMIA allows sharing of classified information from the U.S. government and American companies with the Indian government and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) but not with Indian private companies.
To further defence innovation, a Memorandum of Intent was signed between the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and the Indian Defence Innovation Organization – Innovation for Defence Excellence (DIO-iDEX), which will look into joint projects for co-production and co-development projects through the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
Ahead of the 10th anniversary of the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai, India and the U.S. resolved to combat international terrorism and asked Pakistan to bring those responsible for recent acts of terrorism against India to justice.
“The Ministers welcomed the launch of a bilateral dialogue on designation of terrorists in 2017, which is strengthening cooperation and action against terrorist groups, including Al-Qa’ida, ISIS, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, D-Company, and their affiliates.,” the Joint Statement declared.
Both sides maintained that the Indo-Pacific region has emerged as an important part of bilateral cooperation and emphasised the need to keep it open for maritime trade and free of disputes. “India and the US stand for freedom and democratic values, and we aim to extend this across the Indo-Pacific. We will work at different levels to ensure a free Indo-Pacific," Mike Pompeo said.
India also raised the crucial H1B visa issue with Mr. Pompeo. “I have mentioned this to Secretary Pompeo that on the basis of the friendship which exists between President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indians believe that America will not work against their interest. I have mentioned him to maintain the trust of Indians,” Ms. Swaraj said in her speech at the meeting.