Afghanistan seeks tanks, field artillery and attack helicopters from India

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  1. sree45
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    150 battle tanks, 120 (105 mm) field guns, a large number of 82 mm mortars, one medium lift transport aircraft (AN-32), two squadrons of medium lift (24) and attack helicopters (24) and a large number of trucks and jeeps form a part of the wish list that Afghanistan has handed over to New Delhi to arm itself ahead of the 2014 NATO draw down. Afghanistan has also sought allied paraphernalia for training, maintenance and upkeep of the equipment.

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    Highly placed sources in the government have told Headlines Today that Afghanistan army also wants New Delhi to set up a military training facility for its officers and soldiers in Afghanistan and provide a training team immediately. The training is for English language, counter insurgency operations, ordnance-weapons & stores management and also vehicle repairs.

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    This is assistance apart from the 2 billion dollar aid India is providing to rebuild Afghanistan. India is providing a 2 billion US dollar line of credit to Afghanistan for infrastructure development projects including construction of dams, roads, bridges, Parliament, Schools, hospitals and training facilities. "India is working very closely with the US, Russia and several other countries on Afghanistan-post 2014 draw down and all like minded powers have one goal. Afghanistan cannot be permitted to slide back into the tumultuous days of Taliban at any cost. An effort is being made to synchronize the rebuilding effort,'' sources said.

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    And in a powerful signal to India, Afghanistan has turned down Pakistan's request for both training their service personnel and a generous line of credit to take "what they want'' from Pakistan ordnance factories. "Pakistan's all powerful Army Chief General Ashfq Pervez Kayani had visited Afghanistan and offered to train the Afghanistan army - both officers and men and also equip the Afghanistan army. One officer even attended the Command and Staff College in Quetta but in his assessment report after the course said officers in future should be sent to Staff College, Wellington (India),'' sources added.

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    More than 400 Afghan army officers have trained at National Defence Academy (NDA) Khadakvasla, Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun and Officers Training Academy (OTA) Chennai in the past three years alone. A total of 1200 Afghan National Army officers have been trained by India. "And back in Afghanistan they proudly wear the NDA, IMA & OTA insignia on their uniform. Though the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has set up a training base for Afghan officers and enlisted men in Afghanistan itself - communication remains an issue. Therefore they prefer to undergo training in India. We give pre-commission training to 50 officers every year - but call for 150 applications and the cadets undergo an examination similar to services selection board (SSB) in Kabul itself,'' sources added. India does not weed out applicants based on their ethnic background. India is training Afghan cadets and officers from diverse ethno-religious backgrounds including Pashtun, Tajik and Uzbeks.

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    Afghanistan has also sought Indian assistance is setting up Base Repair Workshops for equipment. "A lot of equipment has been provided to them by different countries. They have so far been adopting a use and throw policy. That is very expensive and cannot be sustained. They have made an urgent request to help set up repair workshops and train their personnel in workshop operations and inventory management. Given the fact they have equipment from roughly 30 countries their inventories are also vast and almost unmanageable. This is one area where we are actively helping them,'' sources added.
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    Top level government sources have told Headlines Today that the prime minister's office is not very inclined to give lethal military hardware to the current Afghan army. "While India is focusing on capacity building, training and infrastructure, the NATO forces have so far been providing arms and ammunition to the Afghan army. 80 per cent of Afghan army equipment comes from NATO forces. The Afghan army is well provided for - when it comes to small arms, ammunition and infantry support weapons. However, there are real fears that area destruction weapons and tanks, artillery etc. could end up in wrong hands post 2014 US army drawdown. Therefore we prefer to adopt a wait and watch policy,'' sources added. India hopes ISAF will train and adequately arm the ANA before the 'final draw down' not just with infantry weapons but also Artillery, Tanks and other area domination weapons.

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    There is a small group that believes India should share weapons with the Afghan army and build their capacity to withstand a Taliban onslaught post 2014 drawdown. A defeatist mentality will only weaken the young Afghan army further. For now both the US and India appear to be adopting a wait and watch policy to see Afghan election results.

    Speaking to Headlines Today Ambassador Jayant Prasad, India's former Ambassador to Afghanistan said: "India has always been a reliable partner of Afghanistan and there are three features that will define India-Afghan partnership for all times to come, perseverance, balance and adaptability. We will see the circumstances and do what ever is required to make Afghanistan stable and prosperous and that holds true of the defence sector too.''

    Former Director General Military Intelligence (DGMI) Lt Gen Ravi Sawhney concurs. "Afghan National army needs an artillery Brigade and Armoured Brigade for protection against Taliban. India has stood by Afghanistan in its darkest days when they were practically abandoned by the world. We have a long term commitment to stabilize Afghanistan and India will not let them down.''

    Afghanistan weapon wish list includes tanks, field artillery, attack helicopters : India, News - India Today
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