US exit: India steps up Afghan army training
Indian and foreign Special Forces personnel under going jungle warfare training at the specialised counter-insurgency range of the Indian army’s famous Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJW) in Vairengte in Mizoram. Read also: “Afghanistan to ask India for military aid”
IDRW.org, July 13, 2013
India is stepping up training of Afghan National Army (ANA) in a major way, even as it also considers supply of military equipment to the fledgling force, in the backdrop of the US-led coalition preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014.
Defence ministry sources say “a major Indian effort has been launched for capability enhancement of the ANA” to ensure it can handle the internal security of Afghanistan after the progressive exit of the 100,000 foreign soldiers from there by end-2014.
India is worried about the stability of the strategically-located Afghanistan after the withdrawal because it is likely to witness a concomitant surge in the activity of the Taliban and its deadly arms like the Haqqani network, which have long worked in league with the Pakistani Army against Indian interests.
Defence minister A K Antony, in fact, recently warned the Indian military brass to be on guard to tackle “any spillover effect” in Jammu & Kashmir and elsewhere due to Pakistan’s continuing support to the Taliban and its inroads into Afghanistan.
Though India has worked largely on re-construction and developmental projects in the war-ravaged country over the last decade, it is now also boosting the “capacity-building” of ANA. If 574 ANA personnel were trained in different Indian Army establishments in 2012-13, for instance, the number will be “well over 1,000″ in 2013-14.
The training includes counter-terrorism operations, military field-craft, signals, intelligence, counter-IED, information technology, battle-field nursing assistance and, of course, the English language. Afghan personnel are also being “attached” to the Infantry School at Mhow, Artillery School at Devlali and Mechanised Infantry Regimental Centre at Ahmednagar for specialized courses.
India has also posted some Army officers in the central Asian nation teach basic military and English skills as well as military doctors to help at hospitals in Kandahar and elsewhere. The training of Afghan pilots and technicians in operating Russian-origin Mi-35 helicopter gunships is also on the anvil.
A joint Indian military-civilian team had also gone to Kabul earlier this month after Afghan President Hamid Karzai submitted “a wish list” of military equipment to India during a visit here in May. The 17-page list includes armoured vehicles, 105mm artillery guns, utility helicopters, trucks, communication equipment and the like.
Sources said the visit of an ANA “Strategic Group”, with 10 high-ranking officers, was also planned to India from September 1 to 13. The delegation will hold talks with the top military brass here, part from visiting military establishments in Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore.