US to renew military logistical pact it signed with MR govt

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The US intends to extend a military logistical agreement it entered into with the previous Rajapaksa administration in March 2007.

Then Sri Lanka Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and then US Ambassador Robert Blake signed the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) in Colombo.

Left parties at the time condemned the ACSA both in and outside parliament.

The agreement valid for 10 years is meant to facilitate transfer and exchange of logistics supplies, support and re-fuelling services.

Asked by The Island whether ACSA would be extended for another 10-year period and perhaps further, a US spokesperson said: "The U.S seeks to renew the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement signed in 2007."

In the wake of the March 2007 agreement signing, Ambassador Blake said the ACSA would allow the U.S. and Sri Lanka to transfer and exchange logistics supplies, support, and re-fuelling services during peacekeeping missions, humanitarian operations and joint exercises.

Authoritative sources said that Sri Lanka had been reluctant to finalise ACSA though the two countries discussed the matter for many years. The UNP-led UNF government dealt with ACSA during 2002-2003 period though it couldn’t be finalised, sources said.

War veteran Rajapaksa received President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s blessings to finalise the ACSA in spite of some UPFA constituents strongly opposing enhanced defence ties with world’s solitary superpower. The agreement came into being significant US backing for war effort against the LTTE. Acting on intelligence provided by the US, the Navy hunted down four LTTE floating arsenals on the high seas in 2007. The US also thwarted an LTTE attempt to acquire surface-to-air missiles at the onset of Eelam War IV in addition to providing 30 units of Bush Master Cannon for Navy Fast Attack Craft (FACs).

Confirmation of US intention was made in the wake US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus visiting Colombo. Mabus also visited Trincomalee Naval Dockyard on Monday to observe joint training involving US and Sri Lankan personnel.

Recently, the US and India signed Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) governing the use of each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply. The agreement is meant to facilitate the provision of logistical support, supplies, and services between the U.S. and Indian militaries on a reimbursable basis, providing a framework to govern them.



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