CHENNAI: The Officers Training Academy (OTA), a premier army training establishment here, has thrown open its doors to yet another friendly country – Tajikistan. For the first time ever, eight personnel from the Tajik National Army are undergoing training at the academy, along with other officer cadets.
According to the academy’s Adjutant, Lieutenant Colonel Arjun Sharma, OTA, started training foreign cadets from 1980-81. “That year, around 74 personnel from Sri Lanka came here. Until now, more than 320 officers from foreign countries have undergone training,” said Sharma.
Among the countries which send their military personnel here are Afghanistan, Bhutan, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Lesotho, Seychelles, Maldives and Fiji. The batch, which is about to pass out next month, consists of 25 foreign cadets, including 10 from Afghanistan, 12 from Bhutan, two from Maldives and one from Fiji.
A significant aspect this year, Sharma pointed out, is the enrolmentof personnel from the Central Asian country of Tajikistan. Presently training alongside eight Tajiks are three women cadets from the Bhutanese army, following last year when the first women foreign cadet also from Bhutan passed out.
Sharma said the decision (to admit foreign cadets) was taken by the Central government, based on the mutual cooperation agreement signed with other countries.
“The foreign cadets who are sent here are among the best from their countries. We respect their religion, culture and tradition and try to integrate them with the rest slowly. Since language is a problem, we conduct additional English classes,” Sharma said, adding that some of them are exceptional in physical games.
Though he doesn’t speak much English, 21-year-old Mamadaliev Morad from Tajikistan was able to convey that the training here is hard and good. Coming from a landlocked country, Morad also stated he had visited Chennai’s famed Marina Beach.