The NDA government is about to sign on a logistics exchange agreement a.k.a LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement), which is a tweaked version of LSA (Logistics Support Agreement) which facilitates the provision of logistical support, supplies and services between the US military and the armed forces of partner countries. Under such an agreement, the two sides can access supplies, spare parts and services from each other’s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
The big question here is: does India need an agreement such as LEMOA?
Giving Indian military access to more bases is surely not a bad idea? But when you closely examine the offer you will find out that the only US bases that will be in operational reach of our military will be the ones in Diego Garcia and Djibouti. Apart from these two bases there is no other US base which India could utilize for ‘strategic purposes’ as being believed by many so called Indian analyst. On the other hand, United States gains access to Indian bases in mainland India, & the Andaman & Nicobar Islands effectively giving it the means to cut off energy supplies to China in case of a war. LEMOA strengthens the ‘US Pivot to Asia’ and India becomes a frontline state in battle to contain China & further expand US influence in Asia. The cons of such an agreement with the United States are far too many when compared to the pros.
The current Indian leadership needs to understand that the United States is a country which cannot be trusted. The United States has consistently interfered in India’s domestic affairs, humiliated our Diplomats, it has waged an economic war on India by attacking India’s renewable energy, IT & pharma sector and has supported our arch enemy with F-16 nuclear capable jets & Viper attack helicopters. Furthermore, the US military conducted “freedom of navigation” operations against 13 countries last year including India. The “freedom of navigation” operations involve sending US Navy ships and military aircraft into areas where other countries have tried to limit access. The aim is to demonstrate that the international community (USA) does not accept such restrictions and the Indian policy makers want to reward such a country with military agreements!!
Still, there are some people in the Indian establishment who peddle the lies that LEMOA will lay the ground work for a strong & enduring defence partnership between the two nations which will help prevent any future Chinese aggression towards India. That because of LEMOA, United States will stand by India shoulder to shoulder in case there is a conflict with China. To those people I have only one word to say ‘Scarborough shoal’. Scarborough shoal is a shoal located between the Macclesfield Bank and the Filipino Luzon Island in the South China Sea and is very strategically important. It would provide China with a base relatively close to the Luzon Strait separating the Philippines. Opening a pathway for Chinese vessels to the wider Pacific Ocean. A base at Scarborough could not only “provide China better surveillance of U.S. and Philippine forces operating” on the main Philippine island of Luzon, but also lead to an “increased harassment of US forces in the region.”
In 2012 China annexed the strategically important shoal from Philippines, which also happens to be a mutual defence treaty ally of United States. In response to this naked act of aggression the United States did nothing while the Chinese Navy & Coast guard along with fishing boats forced the Filipinos to leave the Island. Philippines is not just any country with whom US has good relations, it is a country with whom United States has a “mutual defence treaty”. What happened with the Filipinos nearly four years ago should dispel any misconceptions in the minds of Indian policy makers, Indian cannot deter China by becoming a ‘satellite state’ of the United States.