ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Hitting the Military Jackpot

The US Seventh Fleet was once a threat; now it is deemed to be an opportunity in more than one sense.

The fact that India would now be servicing the United States (US) Seventh Fleet surely reflects the sea change in Indo–US relations. Way back in December 1971, when the victory of the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini in East Bengal was drawing near, the US Navy despatched a 10-ship Naval task force from its Seventh Fleet, then stationed off South Vietnam, to the Bay of Bengal to threaten the Indian armed forces. Earlier, in August 1971, India had entered into a Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union, Article IX of which assured New Delhi that the Soviet Union would come to India’s defence in the event of an external threat or an actual breach of security. And indeed, cruisers, destroyers and a submarine of the Soviet Navy trailed the Seventh Fleet’s task force into the Indian Ocean to ward off the US threat.

Following the end of the Cold War and even before the collapse of the Soviet Union, New Delhi quickly signalled a somersault. During the first Gulf War (August 1990–February 1991) itself, New Delhi permitted the refuelling of US military aircraft on Indian soil. But the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the US, signed in August 2016, lays the ground for the Indian and US militaries to work closely together, for it allows the use of their respective bases for refuelling, maintenance, replenishment of supplies, etc. At a joint press conference at the Pentagon at the time of the signing of LEMOA, in late August 2016, the then US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter explained that LEMOA makes “easier operating together when we choose to.” It makes the “logistics of joint operations so much easier and so much more efficient.” His counterpart, the then Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, concurred that LEMOA would ensure “logistics support to each other’s fleet ... for joint operations” (all italics, our emphasis). We do not know for sure, but it seems that LEMOA will enable forward deployment of military material and personnel from Indian military bases and ports.

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Updated On : 28th Aug, 2017
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