In view of the rapid spread of Coronavirus globally, the visit of the Defense Secretary Mark Esper to India has been put off as well as the India-US Military Cooperation Group (MCG) dialogue. While the US Defence Secretary Esper was expected to travel to India as part of his South Asia Travels next week, the India-US Military Cooperation Group (MCG) dialogue slated for the end of the month in Washington DC has been cancelled. Both these meetings were a follow up to the recently concluded visit of the US President Donald Trump and the inking of $ 3 billion defence deal.
Agenda of the MCG Dialogue
"Topping the agenda was a request from the US side for posting liaison officers at the US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)," said a source. India is in the midst of considering this request from the US as it will help in improving the interoperability and cooperation between the two sides.
It is a forum which reviews the progress at the strategic and operational levels between the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) of India and the USINDOPACOM.
Earlier, the IDS was responsible for the coordination among the armed forces.
According to a source an Indian Navy officer is likely to be posted as a liaison officer at the USINDOPACOM and Indian will be sending an Indian Army officer at the USSOCOM, by next year. The MCG Dialogue was a follow up of whatever was discussed during Trump visit related to defence and security as well to fast track the deals inked. "This dialogue was also to start planning for the third round of 2+2 Indo-US Ministerial Dialogue which is slated to take place in November in New Delhi," said the source.
Besides operationalising the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), both sides are keen to close the pending Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation Agreement (BECA) soon.
Visit of the US Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper
During this visit, the US official was to carry the Letter of Acceptance (LoA) from the Trump administration for the sale of Integrated Air Defense Weapon System (IADWS). Once the LoA is handed then only further talks will start with the US-based Raytheon Corporation and Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace. And this system will help in strengthening India's relations with the US.
Also, on the agenda of this visit was the pending deal for procuring for 30 armed Drones for the three services from General Atomics worth $ 3 billion.
All the defence deals with the US are always through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route.