The United States in South Asia: the India factor

26 Jun 2018

It was reported recently that a team of US specialists – lawyers, policy wonks and technical experts – had been despatched by the Pentagon to New Delhi to meet their Indian counterparts to discuss and negotiate the text of one of the three foundational agreements that Washington wishes India to enter into with it. The discussions are a prelude to the 2+2 Dialogue between the Indian Minister of External Affairs and the Minister of Defence and their US counterparts in Washington next month. The US team was in New Delhi to address Indian concerns about the implications of entering into the agreement.

The agreement, the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), is required to be signed by purchasers of certain US military platforms according to US law if the sales of those platforms are to be undertaken. In its essence, COMCASA provides the necessary framework that enables the US to sell security-focused communications equipment that enables communications interoperability between Indian forces and those of the US and, potentially, other US allies that use the same or similar secure data links.

The entire affair is yet another sign of the growing overall relationship between the US and India, a relationship that both desire for their individual reasons. It is interesting that the relationship has flourished and is growing as quickly as it is, given that it was not always as cordial. It is equally interesting that both countries will need to overcome several challenges if it is to flourish further.

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