India in future will be standing at a much stronger footing in the days to come in case of a standoff or war like situation thanks to COMCASA. Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement or COMCASA is the foundational agreement signed today between India and the United States of America on the sidelines of the inaugural 2+2 dialogue. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis were present at the time of signing of the agreement. India had already signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the USA in 2016. COMCASA will be followed by negotiations for BECA.
COMCASA is one of the four foundational agreements which the US signs with its close allies to ease interoperability between security forces and for sale of high end technology. With its signing India attains a similar status to the one enjoyed by the members of the Five Eyes alliance which comprises of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States of America. The benefits India will enjoy after the signing the COMCASA will include-
1 .The Indian military will get the chance to lay their hands on data received from high end secured and encrypted communication equipments which are installed on American platforms. The high end platforms include but not restricted to C-130J, C-17, P-81 aircrafts as well as Apache and Chinook helicopters. In the absence of these Indian military was reliant on commercially available communication systems. The signing of COMCASA will also give India the chance to possibly use data from other countries which use American origin platforms. The data acquired through such systems can also not be transferred or disclosed to any person or entity without India’s consent meaning it will definitely boost the safety net of the country.
2. Following the agreement which had the intent to provide a legal framework to allow transfer of encrypted communication and security equipment from US to India which will be a lot more secure than the one which India uses right now. Reportedly it is a locally sourced platform which India uses till date to communicate between various weapons systems including the ones purchased from the US. The US government will also readily give the go ahead needed to install the latest and safest communication equipment on relevant platforms being sold to India. It also includes additional provisions to safeguard India’s security and national interests.
3. India will also get an edge over neighbours such as Pakistan and China as it will get access to the data stored by US intelligence which includes imagery. If a situation like Doklam happen again, India will not only be able to access the strategic location of the positioning of the enemy forces but will also be able to access their support links from inside the territory. A great advantage for preparing against enemy which could prove to be decisive in a war situation, something which effectively gives India the same benefits as those enjoyed by countries belonging to the Five Eyes.
4. The agreement also facilitates the transfer of the much needed armed drones which can track and destroy enemy targets using ‘Hellfire’ missiles and ‘smart bombs’. India is already in advanced talks with the US to acquire approximately 22 such drones from the US. Among them will be the Sea Guardian a high altitude, long range drone which has COMCASA protected equipment like GPS, Identification Friend or FOE (IFF) receiver which cannot be manipulated or jammed and spoofed by the enemies.
5. India and US both stand to benefit from this deal as it enables the US to maintain secrecy from its military sensitive equipment so that data leak to third parties such as China does not occur. This is a win-win situation for both the countries as India too does not want its data to be shared with countries like Pakistan and China while the US will be guaranteed that there will be no reverse engineering of its products. It also does not mean that India will have to purchase its defence equipments from USA only but whenever there will be a purchase made from the US the COMCASA will kick in.