NEW DELHI: In a major step towards boosting India- Africa ties, the government has taken the decision to post more Defence Attaches (Das) in African nations. The decision includes posting officers from all three services: Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force.
The Indian Army has decided to send DAs to Mozambique and Ethiopia. The Indian Navy which already has Naval Attaches (NAs) in Kenya and South Africa will post new NAs to Djibouti and Tanzania,
A new Additional Air Attache (AA) will be appointed to serve in Ivory Coast, the Air Chief recently said, along with new Air Attaches to be sent to Spain and Armenia. These DAs will have a three-year tenure.
Multiple sources, from the three services, confirmed to this Newspaper that “More positions for DAs in Africa are under consideration”
Sources in the Army and Indian Navy said with the focus on Africa “Progressively more such movement will take place based on fresher look and the way things are shaping.”. Till some time back all three Armed Forces were sending envoys to more than 100 different Indian missions abroad.
Speaking about the significance of this step Ruchita Beri, Consultant with the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA), New Delhi said, “India and African Countries have evolved a close strategic partnership in the last decade. The increase in the number of DAs to the continent will help in enhancing security engagement with the continent and also understanding the challenges which the African countries face in the realm of security.”
“We had close historical relations, Africa is getting increasingly important and the two countries have lots of convergences: transnational security, Maritime, terrorism etc.”
India and African nations (African Union) have been strengthening their historic ties further. The AU is an important organisation comprising 55 member states that make up the countries of the African continent.
With India’s support the African Union (AU) this month became a permanent member of the Group of 20 largest economies (G20) of the world. India has been spearheading the initiative to get AU included to the Group of 20 (G20) large economies. In addition, India has also contributed in the field of military, social and economic sectors to further enhance stable and long-term bilateral relationships. This also is to counter China's rising influence in the region.
India will continue to work with African nations to promote regional security, foster stability and enhance the defence capabilities together. This was stated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during the first edition of the India-Africa Army Chiefs’ Conclave. The Conclave was attended by Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande and Chiefs & representatives of 31 African nations, along with other civil and defence dignitaries.
He added that this partnership drives the South-South cooperation to build a truly multi-polar world order that is more responsive to the aspirations of developing countries.
A defence attaché (DA) is a member of the armed forces who serves in an embassy as a representative of his/her country’s defence establishment abroad.
Although DA is a generic term used for personnel from all the armed services, countries may appoint an attaché to represent an individual service and accordingly, they are termed as an air force or naval attaché. At some embassies, there are officers from all three services. They assist in defence cooperation, training, procurement and security among others. The defence attaches also keep track of military technologies in the countries they are posted in.
India in 2018 approved the opening of 18 new diplomatic missions in Africa over a four-year period spanning 2018-2021. The move aimed to increase the number of Resident Indian Missions in Africa from 29 to 47. “This will enhance India’s diplomatic outreach in the African continent and allow India to engage with the Indian diaspora in African countries. Opening of new Missions is also a step towards implementing the vision of enhanced cooperation and engagement with Africa.” The Ministry of External Affairs said.
Addressing the two-day 4th DAs Conference in October 2022, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated that defence attachés (DA) are the bridge between India and Friendly Foreign Countries for mutual defence cooperation, urging them to promote Indian defence production capabilities under Atma Nirbhar Bharat (Slef-reliant India) and understand the technological innovations taking place in Indian Defence Production Sector, both Public and Private so as to showcase and promote these in their countries of accreditation.
Appreciating the performance of the DA, Rajnath said that defence attachés make a significant contribution in securing national interests in line with foreign policy; strengthening international cooperation and enhancing the capabilities & preparedness of the Armed Forces.
Rajnath Singh urged them to “carry forward the Government’s vision of achieving self-reliance, describing it as the only way to make India strong and respected on the global stage, amid the constantly-evolving global security scenario. He, however, maintained that ‘Aatmanirbharta’ does not mean isolation from the rest of the world, but ensuring national security and strategic autonomy through a modern military.”
Asserting that India cannot and should not rely on imports, Rajnath Singh reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to achieve self-reliance in defence manufacturing to remain prepared to deal with future security challenges. He termed defence attachés as the forerunners of ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence.