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dna special: Despite reservations, India mulls plan to send defence experts, army officers to Afghanistan

Thursday, 26 December 2013 - 8:30am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

The Indian government is considering a proposal to dispatch experts and army officers to Kabul to train the Afghan National Army (ANA) in their home conditions ahead of the drawdown of US-led forces in 2014.

At present, the army provides training to ANA in India on counter-terrorism operations, military field craft, intelligence, counter-improvised explosive devices (IEDs), information technology, battle-field nursing assistance and English language.

“In view of the withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan in 2014, we need to train the ANA on a priority basis. A proposal has been moved to send first batch of our experts and offices to Afghanistan to give training to ANA in their backyard and home conditions. Training in their locations and terrain would given them an edge as compared to training here in Indian conditions,”an officer told dna.

However, the defence ministry is apprehensive about the safety and security of its men there, keeping in view of the killing of three officers of the Army’s Education Corps in Kabul in February 2010. The officers had gone there to teach English to Afghan troops.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in his four day visit here last week assured New Delhi about the safety and security of Indian officers in the war-torn country.

Following Karzai’s assurance, the ministry of defence moved a proposal to send a batch of officers to Afghanistan comprising officers from various corps such as artillery, intelligence, signal, aviation and education corps. Sources in the ministry of defence claim that the proposal has to be cleared from the Cabinet Committee on Security(CCS) headed by the prime minister.

The Indian Army has already decided to double the number of Afghan National Army personnel who come here for training. According to the army, it is targeting to train about 1,100 Afghan troops by the end of 2014, as compared to 574 personnel trained last year.

Meanwhile, New Delhi has not taken any concrete decision on Karzai’s wish list for lethal weapons, which include battle tanks, field guns, mortars, military aircraft and trucks — needed for Afghan security forces. However, an agreement to send three Indian-made transport helicopters to Afghanistan has been made and the delivery will be made by early next year.

“We need to take a decision on supply of military hardware quickly. Once the US-led forces depart Afghanistan, other Asian countries would make their footprints in the strategically located country,” a military strategist said.

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