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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2763

10 U.S. Code §?2342 makes Sri Lanka useful to U.S. National Interests

By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune Political Note
Washington, D.C. 20 October (Asiantribune.com):

The ‘Asian Tribune’ has gone into extensive research to give its readers and other interested elements in Sri Lanka and professionals around the world a glimpse of what an Acquisition and Cross-Services Agreement (ACSA) is, what it means to the United States, what the policymakers of the United States attempt to achieve in signing an agreement of this nature and its impact on the country that enters into such an agreement with the U.S., and the regional impact following such military engagements.

In a previous Media Commentary - US- Lanka ’07 ACSA: Gota says ‘It helped Sri Lanka’, U.S. says ‘It helped them’ (http://www.asiantribune.com/node/93135) – this Online daily newspaper unearthed two classified diplomatic cables sent by the U.S. Embassy, Colombo to Washington a month prior to the signing of the March 2007 ACSA treaty, and the manner in which American foreign operation in Sri Lanka worked, explicitly admitting, how the Agreement could be advantageous to the United States’ global military operation, and the refusal to extend the military pact toward a quid pro quo formula in reciprocating to give even some crumbs – such as the most wanted military assistance - to combat the LTTE separatist agenda which was threatening Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Asian Tribune probe in this Political Note is directed toward U.S. Code Title 10 Section 2342: Cross-Servicing agreements under which a long process of U.S. Government assessment takes effect how useful a non-NATO country could be to the national interest of the United States.

The U.S. Code declares (Quote) (a)(1) Subject to section 2343 of this title and to the availability of appropriations, and after consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense may enter into an agreement described in paragraph (2) with any of the following: (Among others)

(D) The government of a country not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization but which is designated by the Secretary of Defense, subject to the limitations prescribed in subsection (b), as a government with which the Secretary may enter into agreements under this section. (End Quote)

Here’s Sub-Section (b):

(Quote) (b) The Secretary of Defense may not designate a country for an agreement under this section unless –

(1) the Secretary, after consultation with the Secretary of State, determines that the designation of such country for such purpose is in the interest of the national security of the United States; and

(2) in the case of a country which is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Secretary submits to the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives notice of the intended designation at least 30 days before the date on which such country is designated by the Secretary under subsection (a). (End Quote)

The Pentagon, the State Department and Armed Services and International Committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are very much involved in the process using feed backs and assessments from the U.S. diplomatic post in the host nation.

To enter into an ACSA treaty, the designated country – in this case of Sri Lanka which entered into the agreement in March 2007 – Washington has to determine (Quote) the designation of such country for such purpose is in the interest of the national security of the United States (End Quote)

The US Secretary of Defense arrives at the determination to enter into an ACSA treaty with a (non-NATO) country in consultation with the US Secretary of State. The Secretary of State, in Washington, needs to get a serious feedback from his diplomatic representatives resident in that country. The Asian Tribune produced two classified diplomatic cables dispatched to Washington from the U.S. Embassy in Colombo – among others in our possession – a month prior to the signing of the March 2007 ACSA –determining that the signing of the military treaty clearly falls within the U.S. Code Title 10 Section 2342. As the Asian Tribune noted in the previous report, Washington’s concern was how useful for them to enter into a treaty of this nature with Sri Lanka.

The March 2007 ACSA became a solid forerunner to the enlarged and enhanced 83-page ACSA signed between the United States and Sri Lanka in 2017. During 2007, the U.S. was very much involved in the Global War on Terror (GWoT), and in 2017 Washington was seriously engaged in a steep military build-up in the Indo-Pacific region to face the Chinese military and economic expansion.

In May 2004, Colonel Virgil S.L. Williams and Colonel Debbie Little, both of the United States Army, presented a position paper to the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania under the title “United States Security Strategy for the Asia-Pacific Region’ in which it said – among others - “In addition to host nation supplies and services, ACSA can give U.S. access to basing and infrastructure necessary for force projection in and through the USPACOM (US Pacific Command) area of responsibility”.

US Pacific Command (USPACOM) is currently known as Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACCOM).

In this Political Note, the Asian Tribune focuses the serious nature of engaging in military treaties such as ACSA and Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) or Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) at a time Washington is heavily building its military power-might in the Indo-Pacific region to combat the expansion of the Peoples Republic of China. Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and non-aligned status are in question taking this developed scenario into account.

The ACSA signed in March 2007 which was eight pages has now grown to (undisclosed) 83 pages when it was signed in July 2017. The person who signed the 2007 ACSA – Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa – could inherit the 83-page 2017-signed ACSA and a ‘newly-designed’ SOFA (or VFA) if and when he became the next elected president at the November 16, 2019 election.

What further alarms those who are committed to safeguarding the sovereignty and neutrality of Sri Lanka is that the United States Indo Pacific Command (INDPACCOM) is seriously engaged in enhancing American military presence leading to combat the Chinese ‘expansionism’.

We refer here to provisions of the United States Federal Law 10 U.S. Code 2341.

Quoting 10 U.S. Code 2341: Subject to section 2343 of this title and subject to the availability of appropriations, the Secretary of Defense may—acquire from any government for elements of the armed forces deployed (or to be deployed) outside the United States if that country —

(A) has a defense alliance with the United States;

(B) permits the stationing of members of the armed forces in such country or the home porting of naval vessels of the United States in such country; (Permitting is possible if the SOFA or VFA is signed, and the U.S. ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz has gone on record to say that under SOFA US boots could be on Sri Lanka soil)

(C) has agreed to preposition materiel of the United States in such country; or

(D) serves as the host country to military exercises which include elements of the armed forces or permits other military operations by the armed forces in such country. (End Quote)

“permits other military operations by the armed forces in such country” needs explanations from both the United States and Sri Lanka under this scenario.

Referring to A: has a defense alliance with the United States is where the ACSA treaty between Sri Lanka and the United States – renegotiated and agreed upon expanding it from 8 pages of 2007 to 83 pages in 2017 – and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) or Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) make provisions for the American military to enter Sri Lankan soil under 10 U.S. Code 2341.

The Indian Factor/b>

In March 2002, a delegation of US officials, led by the then Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Christina Rocca, and including US Brigadier General Timothy Ghormely, commander of the US Marine Expeditionary Brigade, visited Sri Lanka for talks with then prime minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, his Defense Minister Tilak Marapona and senior army officers at the Palaly army camp in the north. A four-member team of US military and legal experts visited Sri Lanka the following month. The latter visit was an unannounced one.

The Wickremasinghe administration was covertly negotiating with the United States to enter into the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA).

India’s opposition blocked the signing of the agreement as India and the United States were in diplomatic confrontational terms during that time. With New Delhi teaming up with Washington on military, economic and trade issues – especially both countries’ confrontation with China, Sri Lanka had an easy task of entering into military pacts with the United States in 2017.

It is in the hands of the next Sri Lanka administration to assess the broad scenario noted above either to stay within the ‘military pacts’ considering Sri Lanka’s lucrative (23 percent) export market in the United States or take a position to consolidate its sovereignty and non-alignment seriously using her vital geo-strategic location in the Asia-Pacific region for her own benefit. Will Sri Lanka be a client state or not will be decided after Sri Lanka’s presidential poll this November.

- Asian Tribune –

10 U.S. Code §?2342 makes Sri Lanka useful to U.S. National Interests
Sri Lanka Navy’s Marine Corps in an amphibious capability demonstration – as shown above - the US Navy gets an open door to the Indian Ocean
diconary view
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