Now on, India will train nearly 1,000 Afghan soldiers every year

As part of its efforts to enhance Afghan National Army (ANA) capability, India has been training a large number of cadets from that country. Now, 52 cadets, who form the second-largest batch of Afghan soldiers to have completed training, will pass out of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) on Saturday.

The passing-out parade will be witnessed by 16 senior officers of the Afghan Army, who themselves trained at the Academy between 1974 and 1982. Many of them would be accompanied by their wifes and children. These officers include Musa Khan Akbarzada, now Governor of the Ghazni Province, and Mehrabulddin Safi, Governor of Kapisa.

The Army said that from 1974 to 1982, as many as 37 Afghans attended one-year training as cadets at the IMA, after training for three years at the National Defence Academy or the ACC Wing. Thereafter, training at the IMA was suspended due to the fighting between the Mujahideen and the Soviet Army.

However, ever since training resumed at the National Defence Academy in 2007 and at the IMA in 2011, a very large number of ANA officers have been trained there. Many officers, who had passed out till 1982, achieved high-ranking jobs in the Afghan Army and in government and civic offices.

The proposal to invite these officers for Saturday’s parade was mooted in February this year.

The Ministries of External Affairs and Defence subsequently approved a proposal for 20 ex-IMA officers to visit India, with their spouses, for a week this month. Finally, 16 officers with 11 spouses and 13 children arrived on December 10.

Forty-eight cadets each are still in the first and second terms at the IMA. The 52 cadets from the ANA are the second biggest after the batch of 58 which completed training in December 2012.

Now on, India intends training nearly 1,000 ANA soldiers in various defence establishments every year. The ANA personnel are undergoing specialised courses at the Artillery School, Devlali; the Mechanised Infantry Regimental Centre, Ahmednagar, and the Infantry School, Mhow, apart from in the IMA and the NDA.

The training of Afghan officers is of great strategic importance to India as it prepares for a larger role after the proposed withdrawal of the U.S.-led coalition from the country from 2014.

Besides making the ANA capable enough to handle internal security once nearly a lakh foreign soldiers leave the war-ravaged nation, New Delhi is considering a request from Kabul for military equipment to deal with any surge in the activities of the Taliban or the Haqqani network in Afghanistan.

India also wants to curb these forces so that there will be no “spillover effect” in Jammu and Kashmir.

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