During the 2 + 2 Ministerial Dialogue between India and America on Tuesday, the two countries signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). This is said to strengthen defence relations between the two countries. Under BECA, India and the United States will share sensitive information with each other.
The BECA is the last of the three basic agreements that the US enters into with its close partner countries to enable mutual reciprocity and exchange of sensitive and classified information. The two earlier agreements were the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
The two earlier agreements are related to the sharing of military logistics and secure communications, while the purpose of BECA is the sharing of geospatial information, including nautical and aeronautical charts, for the military and the government. All data supplied by highly accurate US satellites helps in targeting navigation and military assets. Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) will exchange technical information related to the specifications, methods and formats for the collection and processing of information.
What will be the share
Information that can be shared between India and the United States under BECA includes maps, nautical and aeronautical charts, commercial and other unclassified imagery; Geometric, geophysical, geomagnetic and gravity data may be included. It can be in digital or printed format. Although most of the information shared will be in the Unclassified category, BECA also has a provision to share classified information. However, security measures remain with it to ensure that information is not shared with any third party.
BECA was under discussion for 10 years. It was blocked by the UPA government after the Security Forces expressed concern over the protection of classified information and access to classified labs in India. Over time, these concerns were resolved after several rounds of talks.
How helpful for India
Although data sharing is a process done from both sides, but it is going to benefit India more. The reason for this is that India will get access to military grade data, which can help in preparing target coordinates. In an interaction with Financial Express Online, C4I expert Milind Kulshrestha said that India will definitely emerge as a major military power in the Indian Ocean Region through the COMCASA, BECA and LEMOA agreements. The recent India-China deadlock has started a new dimension for India in terms of aggressive military stance.
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