Amidst deepening U.S.-Indian defense ties, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh have announced the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) – on Geospatial Cooperation – in New Delhi. BECA is the last of four defense agreements between the world’s two largest democracies.
The United States generally only enters into these agreements with its closest allies since they allow for the exchange of highly classified information. Esper told the news conference at the signing of the agreement that the new defense pact was a “significant milestone” that would foster cooperation between the militaries of both countries, reported Reuters.
Reuters added that under BECA India will have “access to a range of satellite topographical, nautical and aeronautical data that are considered vital for targeting missiles and armed drones. The agreement will also allow the U.S. to provide advanced navigational aids and electronic systems for aviation on U.S.-supplied aircraft to India.”
The United States plans to sell more fighter planes and drones to India, Esper added. The agreement adds to existing and developing defense linkages between Delhi and Washington. According to CNBC:
Singh said the positioning of a U.S. Navy liaison officer in the Indian navy’s information sharing hub — the Indian Fusion Center-Indian Ocean Region — and the placement of an Indian liaison officer at the United States Naval Forces Central Command Bahrain could be “leveraged to enhance our information-sharing architecture.”
Separately, CNBC reported that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with Indian media Times Now that this is an ideological war in effect, stating:
that the agreements between the U.S. and India underscore an understanding that there is a “battle” between freedom and authoritarianism.
An Oct. 27 State Department transcript of the interview noted that Pompeo added, “India, like the United States, has chosen democracy and freedom and sovereignty and all the things that the people of India care so deeply about,” adding, “So when confronted by tyranny by the Chinese Communist Party, you can be sure that the United States will stand alongside its partners.”