COMCASA: India, US sign Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement

India and United States has signed Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that will lead to a new generation of bilateral military partnership. It was signed at end of inaugural India-US ‘2+2’ Ministerial Dialogue held in New Delhi.

Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)

COMCASA is one of the four foundational agreements that guide US high technology cooperation in defence sector with other countries. It was earlier called Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) before name was changed to reflect its India-specific nature. Other two agreements are Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and BECA. COMCASA will be valid for 10 years and came into force immediately it was signed.
COMCASA is meant to facilitate use of high-end secured communication equipment to be installed on military platforms being sold to India by US to fully exploit their potential. It essentially provides legal framework for transfer of communication security equipment from US to India that will facilitate interoperability between armed forces of both countries and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secure data links. Interoperability in this case means that there will be access to encrypted and secret technologies or communications.

Significance

By signing COMCASA, India has concluded three of four foundational agreements with US that had been planned for years. It will facilitate use of high-end secured communication equipment to be installed on military platforms being sold to India by US and fully exploit their potential. These platforms include C-130 J, C-17, P-8I aircraft and Apache and Chinook helicopters. This will also facilitate greater interoperability between forces and military hardware of India and US, and also possibly with other countries that operate on US-origin platforms. COMCASA takes into consideration India’s security and national interests. It will provide full access to relevant equipment and there will be no disruptions. Data acquired through such systems will be not disclosed or transferred to any person or entity without India’s consent. It will be implemented by both countries in manner consistent with national security interests of the other.

Foundational agreements

They are meant to build basic ground work and promote interoperability between militaries by creating common standards and systems. They also guide sale and transfer of high-end technologies. US signs these agreements with countries with which it has close military ties. India has already signed two of them — General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002 and Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016. Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) is the remaining agreement not yet signed by India and negotiations are yet to begin.

  • GSOMIA: It allows sharing of classified information from US Government and American companies with Indian government and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) but not with Indian private companies.
  • LEMOA: It gives access to both countries and to designated military facilities on either side for the purpose of refuelling and replenishment.
  • BECA: It facilitates exchange of geospatial information between India and US for both military and civilian use.

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