By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury
ET Bureau |
NEW DELHI: India is subtly increasing defence training programmes in friendly countries in southeast Asia Africa and Latin America, with a global strategic objective.
Besides training military officers and personnel of Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Asean, African and Latin American nations in domestic training facilities, Indian trainers are also visiting countries like Laos and Vietnam and Namibia and Ethiopia to impart military training, official sources told ET.
These are friendly countries with which India has extensive diplomatic contacts, sources pointed out. The training is not just about combat readiness but also involves basic modules like rock climbing and assisting in building infrastructure in these countries.
While in Southeast Asia, India is eyeing to play a larger strategic role, military cooperation with the African countries is in the context of maritime security cooperation and anti-piracy operations. “The defence cooperation with Africa has also to be viewed in the context of South-South cooperation,” explained an official who did not wish to be named.
Apart from Namibia and Ethiopia, Indian defence trainers are extending cooperation to other countries of Africa that are not facing civil war. Ethiopia has been a key political and economic partner in East Africa. Namibia in South West Africa has political relations with India since the days of its anti-colonial movement and has also signed a uranium supply deal with India.
Deba Mohanty, a Delhi-based defence expert told ET that the Narendra Modi government has the political will to expand defence cooperation globally in the coming days. The officers and personnel from the Afghan National Army is being trained in India since the fall of Taliban in 2001 and the number of trainees has increased significantly in recent times, sources said. Military of ficers from Myanmar also receive training in India following closer defence links between the two countries.
Bangladesh, which did not send many military officers earlier to India is now deputing several personnel for training in India. India-Bangladesh relations have seen a marked improvement since 2009 and service chiefs and high-ranking officials from both countries have been visiting each other’s country in the last few years. Besides training programs for these developing countries, India also trains military personnel from Singapore and Oman under self-financing scheme.