The Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor is to go on an official visit to the USA from July 20 to July 25. Interestingly, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be India at the same time.
According to a statement from the army, General Kapoor will be meeting the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chief of Staff, US Army General George William Casey Junior and the Commander, US CentCom, General David H. Petraeus.
He plans to visit ‘important training institutions and operational headquarters to get a glimpse of the organization, doctrinal concepts and training facilities for operational deployment of US Army in a global framework’. General Kapoor’s agenda for discussions will focus on Indo-US defense cooperation including joint training and exercises, exchanges and military equipment cooperation and also strategic issues like the US Af-Pak policy and regional security. This becomes especially significant in the light of the visit of the Afghan National Army (ANA) chief General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi to New Delhi last week.
The visit is also significant as it comes at a time of increasing Indo-US military cooperation. On the current agenda are three agreements, the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), the End User Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) and the Communications Interoperability and Security Agreement (CISA). While the first envisages an arrangement for reciprocal refueling and resupply, the second would allow the US to inspect Indian military hardware bought from the US and the third relates to confidentiality about defense equipment and systems supplied by the US.
The EUMA has faced considerable opposition from the Indian armed forces and reportedly also from the Defense Minister AK Antony because it is being considered an infringement of Indian sovereignty. “Once you have paid for something, why should the seller have any right over the equipment?” asks one senior officer. It is expected to be taken up by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she begins her visit to India on Friday. General Kapoor will be leaving India for the US the day after Secretary Clinton arrives in Delhi from Mumbai.
The LSA, on the other hand, is considered ‘not worth it’ by some senior officials in the Ministry of Defense as firstly, it would imply direct support to the US-led war effort in Afghanistan, which would be politically sensitive in India and secondly, the Indian armed forces do not envisage availing of the facilities provided under the agreement from the US.