India-US talks: MDO, intelligence sharing, and operationalizing agreements to be discussed; Lloyd Austin calls on NSA Ajit Doval

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Updated: Mar 20, 2021 10:20 AM

Both the US Navy and the Indian Navy have signed a loan agreement and installed two Pacific fleet- provided CENTRIXS systems at the Indian Navy headquarters and the two sides are in discussions for installing several more at other locations.

The US already has MDO in place. And India will be seeking its expertise in an effort to adopt the same system for its own forces.

When the visiting US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets his counterpart Rajnath Singh on Saturday, India will seek cooperation from the US in Multi Domain Operation (MD), and Intelligence Sharing.

On Friday late afternoon the US Defense Secretary arrived in India on Friday on a two day visit which is aimed at enhancing the bilateral defense and security ties between the two countries. He is accompanied by a high level official delegation. This is the first visit of one of the top officers from the Biden administration and assumes importance as it follows the recently concluded Quad Leaders Summit which was called by the US President Joe Biden

“Since India is trying to transform from man-power intensive to technology-intensive force, talks with the US is going to be in Multi-Doman Operations (MDO). And also Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Big Data as well as block chain. The two are also going to talk about Intelligence sharing, as well as operationalizing agreements inked between the two countries,” a senior officer confirmed to Financial Express Online, late Friday evening.

What exactly is MDO?

Though India has recently started focusing on jointness among all the three services — this means that the all the services participate together, and need not necessarily be in an integrated manner.

MDO is a step beyond joint. Roughly it means that capabilities are employed through multiple domains. This is very critical in network centric warfare. And is already operational among the NATO members as well as countries like Australia has this in operation. Once this is operational then it is able to provide C4 [command, control, communication and computer] services which will help the forces to deploy the troops and assets in a very short time.

The US already has MDO in place. And India will be seeking its expertise in an effort to adopt the same system for its own forces. This means that right from the soldier on the ground will be able to enhance his individual performance which will be through AI support systems, machine learning, and biotechnical sensors.

Operationalizing the Indo-US Agreements

India and the US will also talk about the operationalization of the agreements inked by both sides. As has been reported by Financial Express Online the two countries have concluded: The foundational agreement for mutual logistics support — The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA); Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). The COMCASA agreement facilitates encrypted communications between the two armed forces. Both countries have also concluded the Industrial Security Annex or ISA, which enables the US to share sensitive information with private Indian entities on military hardware and helped paving the way for joint production of military equipment. Last year, the two countries inked the long pending Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).

Also read | India-US talks: Interoperability, CATSAA, Indo-Pacific Region and other issues to be the focus of talks with Lloyd Austin

Both the US Navy and the Indian Navy have signed a loan agreement and installed two Pacific fleet- provided CENTRIXS systems at the Indian Navy headquarters and the two sides are in discussions for installing several more at other locations. New Delhi, has according to reports also created a common account of USD 5 million, this has been set up to pay for services or information sought from the US under the COMCASA.

And to analyze large volumes of data that are received as part of Maritime Domain Awareness, a tactical data link, Sealink Advanced Analysis (S2A), is in the process of being set up. For the Big Data Analytics, the S2A is being co-developed by India and the US.

Visiting US Defense Secretary calls on NSA

He reached New Delhi after concluding his visits to Japan and South Korea. And later in the evening called on National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Several issues including the ongoing standoff between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the situation in Myanmar as well as other issues of mutual interests were discussed.

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