NEW DELHI: Gearing up for 2014 when the US Army withdraws the last of its troops from Afghanistan, India has decided to shore up its military engagement with the country ravaged by terrorism.
As per this enhanced military cooperation, the number of Indian soldiers in Afghanistan is set to increase and so is the number of Afghanistan cadets being trained in the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehra Dun and the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune. This programme is the first concrete step after the signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between Kabul and New Delhi in October 2011.
Under the agreement, India with the third-largest Army had agreed to train, equip and build the capacity of the Afghan National Army, which is presently an infantry specific force.
According to well-placed sources, “We have a strategic partnership with Afghanistan and now we are becoming the number one country outside NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) to train the Afghan Army and sign the Defence cooperation pact with Kabul. The idea is to target their next generation human capital.”
It has been a ‘conscious decision’ on the part of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Defence to train the Afghani forces to allow them ‘to fend for themselves’. The Afghanistan Army had started sending its troops for training to India in 2005. Since then every year around 250 cadets are being given pre-commissioning training at the premier military institutions like the NDA and the IMA. “Approval has come to increase the vacancy for Afghani troops to about a 1,000 cadets per year. It is likely to be achieved by 2014,” sources added. Also the Indian Army, with its expertise of counter insurgency and counter-terrorism for the past five decades, will be imparting the training to the Afghan troops in this arena as well. Also senior-level officers are likely to be provided focussed training at three specialised institutions in India: the Commando School in Belgaum in south India, the Counter-insurgency and Jungle Warfare (CIJW) School in Mizoram, in northeast of India, and the High Altitude Warfare School in Sonamarg, Kashmir.