At the 2+2 meet, India and the United States signed the Communications, Compatibility, and Security Agreement (COMCASA). It is called ‘2+2’ because two appointed ministers from each country meet to discuss issues of strategic and security interest. In the recent 2+2 meet, the American side was represented by US Secretary of State and Defence Secretary; and the India side was represented by Indian Defence Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister.
What is COMCASA?
COMCASA permits Indian military to obtain high-end secured and encrypted communication equipment from United States for its armed forces. The communication equipment is installed on American platforms obtained by Indian Armed Forces such as C-130 J, C-17, P-8I aircraft, and Apache and Chinook helicopters.
This facilitates greater interoperability between forces and military hardware of the two countries, and also possibly of interoperability with other countries that operate on US-origin platforms
How it helps India?
The agreement provides a legal framework to allow transfer of encrypted communication security equipment from the US to India, which is safe and more secure than the equipment used by India at present. Currently, Indian military uses locally-sourced equipment to communicate between various weapons systems. Communication equipment has also been sourced from abroad, including US. After COMCASA, the US will be able to provide Indian army with high-end secured and encrypted communication equipment.
What is the overall position on four foundational agreements?
With COMCASA, India has signed three of the four foundational or enabling agreements with the U.S. meant to improve interoperability between the militaries and allow transfer of high-end military platforms.
The first one was General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). It is for information safety. It was signed in 2002.
Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) was signed in 2016. COMCASA is an India-specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA).
The last one, which is remaining, is the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA). Discussions are already taking place on BECA.