Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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US, India to Sign Pact Allowing Use of Each Other’s Military Bases


(Photo : PTI) US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar during Parrikar's visit to the US in April 2016.

Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar on Aug. 30 will sign the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), a foundational agreement for India and the U.S. that will allow the military forces of both nations to use each other's military bases in the Indo-Pacific region.

Parrikar, who is on an official visit to the U.S. from Aug. 29 to 31, will sign the agreement on behalf of India. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will sign for the United States.

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The agreement is directed squarely against China and Russia, both of which are flirting with the idea of establishing a military alliance to cripple U.S. power worldwide. It places India squarely on the side of the U.S. and its allies in Asia standing against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

LEMOA means India will allow U.S. forces to operate out of its military bases and vice versa. The agreement will give each nation access supplies, spare parts and services from each other's land facilities, air bases and ports, which can then be reimbursed, according to India's Ministry of Defense.

The ministry also said LEMOA does not give automatic access to the use of each nation's military bases.

LEMOA is seen as part of President Barack Obama's pivot to Asia and caps 12 years of unrelenting effort by the U.S. Under the pivot meant to rein in communist China and its imperialistic leadership, the U.S. Navy plans to deploy 60 percent of its surface ships to the Indo-Pacific with this decade. 

LEMOA will immensely aid the U.S. in this massive redeployment of its military forces because instead of having to build new military bases, its forces can operate out of India's military bases on the Indian mainland.

For its part, India will have access to U.S. bases in the Indian Ocean such as the one on Diego Garcia atoll in the Chagos Archipelago. China is expanding its naval presence in the Indian Ocean and as part of this strategy will build a military base on the Seychelles and will open its first overseas naval base in Djibouti in 2017.

China is also eyeing bases in Pakistan (its most powerful ally in Asia), Myanmar, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

LEMOA will also wean India away from its decades-old alliance with Russia and towards a new alliance with the U.S., Japan and Australia to protect the Indian Ocean and the seas off Southeast Asia against China.

India remains at odds with China from border disputes dating back to the month-long Sino-Indian War in 1962.  Tensions are currently high along the 4,000 kilometer Line of Actual Control (LAC) dividing India and China as India is heavily reinforcing its military forces along this volatile border in response to a Chinese military build-up.

LEMOA will confront China with the prospect of a two-front war, and might give pause to future Chinese aggression along the LAC and Asian seas.

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