India and the U.S. on September 6, 2018, signed the foundational or enabling agreement COMCASA ( Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) on the side-lines of the inaugural 2+2 dialogue.
COMCASA is one of the four foundational agreements that the U.S. signs with allies and close partners to facilitate interoperability between militaries and sale of high end technology.
India had signed the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002 and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016. The last one remaining is the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA).
1 . COMCASA is an India-specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA).
2 . It comes into force immediately, and is valid for a period 10 years.
Benefits for India
1 . With CISMOA [COMCASA is an India-specific version of CISMOA], Indian armed forces will get to fully exploit the capability of the military platforms procured from the US. For instance, the P-8I reconnaissance aircraft of the Navy which have emerged as a major force multiplier are currently operating at limited capacity
2 . It would facilitate access to advanced defence systems .
3 . Specific additional provisions have been incorporated in the text to safeguard our security and national interests.
4 . This will also enable greater communications interoperability between the militaries of India and the US. Data acquired through such systems cannot be disclosed or transferred to any person or entity without India’s consent.
5 . It will enable Indian military to get a better picture of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) which is seeing increasing Chinese movements
6 . As a consequence of CISMOA, India will get access to Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System or CENTRIXS for short which is the secure communication system network of the US.
CENTRIXS consists of a collection of coalition wide area networks (WAN) known as enclaves” and is a “great enabler, allowing ship-to-ship operational dialogue between the two nations in text and web-based formats.
Navy ships with CENTRIXS systems on board can communicate securely with the U.S. Navy when needed and can benefit from the wider situational picture of the region as they have a large number of ships and aircraft deployed.
7 . It will reduce the stress on our assets and allow us prioritise our deployments more efficiently.
8 . Both countries will implement this agreement in a manner that is consistent with the national security interests of the other.
Areas of concern
There are persistent concerns that this would allow U.S. Navy access to India’s own secure communication network and also that the information shared with the U.S. will be accessible by Pakistan.