The logistics pact signed between India and the U.S. after over a decade of negotiations does not mean much in itself, say experts, adding that the real challenge lies in its implementation.
The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) is an administrative arrangement facilitating access to each other’s military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement.
“LEMOA is just an enabling agreement and the test of it lies in how it plays out in the future,” observed Rear Admiral (retd.) V.S. Chaudhari, the additional director of Centre for Joint Warfare Studies.
Another retired Navy officer who did not wish to be named termed it a “procedural thing” and said that too much was being made out of it as “it is a break from the past.” “The real issue is its implementation and the status of forces for which India has not signed an agreement with the U.S.,” he stated, pointing to the intrusive U.S. clauses that may be politically problematic for India.Strong message to China
Other experts see it as sending a strong message to Beijing. Some in the Chinese media had expressed concerns over signing of the agreement. According to Dr. W.P.S. Sidhu, Senior Fellow at New York University’s Centre on International Cooperation, China’s reaction proves that LEMOA is a formidable diplomatic and military tool that India can leverage to build its own capacity vis-à-vis Beijing. “It also underlines the emerging U.S.-India alliance against the China-Pakistan-DPRK axis,” he told The Hindu .
Another Asia expert, Michael Kugelman, Senior Program Associate at Wilson Centre said that it “telegraphs a clear message of intent” even as some of the definitional issues continue to be worked out. He said that LEMOA could be seen as a case of putting the cart before the horse, because the two countries have still not agreed on what should constitute the essence of security cooperation.