If we talk about Military Logistics Support Agreements (MLSA) in simple terms, this is an agreement that gives access to military facilities for various things like the exchange of fuel, logistical support for military away from their homeland, etc.
India in a strategic move against China’s aggressive expansionist behavior in the Indo-Pacific region again entered into a military agreement this time with Australia called the ‘Mutual Logistic Support Agreement’ also known as MLSA. New Delhi signed this agreement with Canberra during a virtual conference between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison. Australia is the fifth country with which India signed any military agreement after the US, France, South Korea, and Singapore. The prime objective behind these agreements is to strengthen India’s grip and reach in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The current agreement with Australia will enable Indian Warships to get refueled from Australian tankers while also availing for berthing, maintenance, and storage facilities at Australian Naval Bases on a joint or reciprocal basis. The MLSA agreement will result in the extension of our warships in the southern IOR and Western Pacific. This agreement is indispensable in the viewpoint of the fact that China has expanded its hands in the IOR after the establishment of its first overseas military base in Djibouti which started its operations in the year 2017.
To pressurize China more India has already decided to sign another agreement with Japan making it the sixth country with which India is going to sign MLSA. At the same time, to add more to the plates of China, two other similar agreements are in the phase of negotiation with Russia and the United Kingdom.
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This series of military agreements started in the year 2016 with the first agreement called Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) signed with the US which gave India, permission, and access to the refueling facilities and access to move and use of American bases in Djibouti, Diego Garcia, Guam and the Gulf of Subic.
A similar agreement with France in 2018 helped Indian Navy to establish its presence in the Southwest IOR because of India’s reach to the French bases in the Reunion Islands near Madagascar and the French bases in Djibouti.
The one crucial thing that is important in all these contracts is that they give India access to all the bases of the respective countries situated in all of the locations which are obviously reciprocal in nature.
MLSA agreements not only covers the interests of India buy also covers the interests of the second party (or country). The agreement will be useful during joint military exercises, peacekeeping missions, and any other situation that may arise. It will also help in improving interoperability between the involved parties. This will also avoid the dispersion of resources of both parties faraway for their homeland.
Overall these agreements are of prime importance because of the fact that China has access to the Karachi and Gwadar ports in Pakistan for turnaround facilities for its submarines and warships and also that, China is trying to establish military bases in Cambodia, Vanuatu and other countries to further strengthen its presence in the Indo-Pacific and IOR region and because of China’s access to these ports it becomes crucial for India to have some type of resistance in the IOR.
1st-year law student
Dharmashastra National Law University, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh