Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper will travel to New Delhi this week to engage in “2+2” talks with their Indian counterparts.
The officials are expected to sign an intelligence-sharing agreement (known as BECA) that will grant India access to American map and satellite imagery. This access will greatly improve the accuracy of automated weapons, drones, and missiles and help narrow the tech gap between the Indian and Chinese militaries.
“In the current scenario of the border standoff with China, geospatial intelligence and real-time images will be crucial,” said one Indian official.
Tens of thousands of Indian and Chinese troops have been sent to the nations’ disputed border in Ladakh following a deadly crash that killed at least 20 Indian soldiers in June (read more here).
The skirmish highlights the need for a stronger relationship between the US and India.
BECA (The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) will be the fourth defense pact the US has signed with India since 2002, and bilateral defense trade between the two nations has increased by at least $20 billion since. Over the past two years, both sides have reached agreements to share encrypted military intel and to utilize and replenish each other’s bases.
The United States is also seeking to enhance cooperation with island nations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans that face pressure from China. Following his trip to New Delhi, Mr. Pompeo with visit leaders in Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia.
“We are enforcing what has long been known as international law and preventing folks from trying to dominate or monopolize access to any particular area,” argues David Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for the Asia-Pacific. “Rules provide the grease between countries so we don’t have unfortunate incidents.”
The same sentiment was expressed early this month at the Quad meeting in Tokyo. The Quad – short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – is an informal strategic forum of democracies that includes the US, India, Japan, and Australia. The forum’s purpose is to discuss security issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. Naturally, China views the Quad as a threat.
Author’s Note: This military deal with India is vitally important. As China gets more and more belligerent, we will need friends with massive populations to counter China. Soldier v. soldier may be the only way to avoid nuclear war.