The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) recently generated a poll in order to ascertain public viewpoint about the possible impact of the recently signed ‘Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)’ for defence cooperation between India and the US. The agreement was signed in Washington during Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to the US in August, 2016. The agreement would give way to the militaries of the two states to work closely and uses each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies. It can also be said that this agreement would serve as a gateway to future military pacts and cooperation between the two states.

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Of those who responded, a clear majority of around 83.7% was of the view that the defence pact between the two states will have an impact on the balance of power in the continent. However, 10.2% of them denied probability of any such shift in near future. Whereas, only 6.1% of the respondents had no clear opinion on the subject.

In last few decades, the Chinese economy has grown manifolds causing the balance-of-power shift to tilt in favor of the People’s Republic of China. This called for a much greater US role in the East and Southeast Asia that looked for countering China’s rising influence in the region. The US’ ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy is also heavily linked with this agenda of its foreign policy. Inevitably, it gave birth to an unavoidable power tussle between the US and PRC. Subsequently, Indo-Pak rivalry, the end of the Cold War, China’s ‘opening’ economy, Indo-China’s uneasy relations and the US-China economic and trade competition were some of the biggest factors that brought the US and India closer together for their own benefits.

The agreement also marks a major policy shift in the historically ‘militarily neutral’ state of India on the face of global power games. Mr Parrikar’s US counterpart, the Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, also drew comparison between the US’ ‘Pivot to Asia’ and India’s ‘Act East’ policies on the occasion.[1] Therefore, the US-India LEMOA can be termed as a threat to China’s influence in Asia and its maritime trade routes through the Indian Ocean. Hence, the agreement is said to have some impact on the balance of power in the continent. It was confirmed by China’s reaction as its state-run daily not only criticized the development but also warned India against joining the US ‘alliance system’.[2] Additionally, as suggested by an editorial in the Global Times, the agreement could also irk Pakistan and possibly Russia, and tantamount to being a source of much greater geopolitical rivalries in Asia.[3]

In wake of the agreement and the responses it received, it is pertinent to gauge its impact on the balance of power especially in Asia. Given the parties involved in the pact and the states that might be affected by it, it is safe to say that the defense agreement has global significance. However, only the subsequent events related to this significant development can confirm the kind and degree of impact it has.


[1] IANS. “India, US ink logistics defence agreement: Pact does not involve setting up military bases.” First Post, August 30, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016. http://www.firstpost.com/india/india-us-ink-logistics-defence-agreement-pact-does-not-involve-setting-up-military-bases-2983844.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Is India Heading toward Alliance with US?” Global Times, August 30, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1003574.shtml.

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