India-US sign BECA: Two countries to share more intelligence; Why is it important?

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October 28, 2020 9:48 AM

With BECA in place, both countries will now share high-end military technology, geospatial maps and classified satellite data between their militaries.

This agreement will now allow India to use US geospatial maps, which will increase the accuracy of weapons, including automated hardware systems and cruise-ballistic missiles.(Source: Twitter/@MEAIndia)

On Tuesday, India and the US signed the landmark defence pact, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) BECA. With BECA in place, both countries will now share high-end military technology, geospatial maps and classified satellite data between their militaries. Also MoU for Technical Cooperation in Earth Observations and Earth Sciences; Arrangement extending duration of MoU concerning cooperation with the Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership, India; Agreement for the Electronic Exchange of Customs Data between Postal Operations of both countries and lastly, Letter of Intent for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences were inked.

The third edition of the 2+2 Indo-US Ministerial Dialogue concluded in New Delhi where External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper was assisted by their top military and security officials.

At a joint media event, along with Jaishankar, Pompeo and Esper, Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh said that the two sides had comprehensive discussion on critical issues and he dubbed the inking of BECA with the US is a “significant move”.

After the talks, top sources told Financial Express Online, “Both security and defence cooperation between India and US has emerged as a key pillar of their strategic partnership. In fact the defence trade, joint exercises, mil-to-mil ties as well as industrial and technology collaboration have deepened and expanded in recent times.”

Also, “There has been considerable progress with more information sharing and operational cooperation in counter-terrorism. The bilateral Joint Working Groups on Counter-Terrorism and Designation Dialogue have been meeting regularly, in an effort to enable cooperation in pursuing sanctions and designations of terrorist groups and individuals,” sources said.

Foundational Agreements

In 2002, both countries had inked a major pact General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), which provides for specific measures for ensuring security standards which are important for safeguarding the information which is shared by the US with India.

In 2016, the Trump administration designated India as a “Major Defence Partner” which allowed the US to further elevate defence trade and technology sharing to a level equal with that of its closest partners and allies. It was in the same year the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) was signed. This allows the militaries of both countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.

In 2018, COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) which is for interoperability between the two militaries and allows the sale of high-end technology to India was inked.

And in 2020, BECA was inked, which gives a new dimension to the relationship between the two countries.

Why is BECA important?

This agreement will now allow India to use US geospatial maps, which will increase the accuracy of weapons, including automated hardware systems and cruise-ballistic missiles. It will also serve as the basis for India’s purchase of unmanned aerial aircraft (UAVs) from the US.

These UAVs depend on US geospatial data for enemy attacks from the sky. The agreement comes at a time when India is considering buying for the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force 10+10+10 = 30 General Atomics MQ-9 Guardian drones from the US. India and the US have exchanged intelligence information during a standoff with China in Doklam in 2017.

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