India may strengthen Afghan military to promote stability

India may supply both lethal and non-lethal military hardware to Afghanistan, as the conflict-ridden country is set to go through a transition with the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force by 2014.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is understood to have assured Afghan President Hamid Karzai that New Delhi would try to meet some of the requirements of the Afghan National Security Forces, which are set to take greater responsibility after the withdrawal of the US-led ISAF from combat role by the end of next year.

Karzai was on a visit to India from Monday to Wednesday. During a meeting with the prime minister on Tuesday, the Afghan president handed over to him a list of military hardware Kabul wants New Delhi to provide for the use of ANSF personnel.

The lengthy list running into 18 pages not only contains Afghanistan’s demands for arms and ammunition, communication and electronics equipment but also technology for construction of barracks and electricity projects.

Indian Army is also set to double the number of ANSF personnel who receive training in India. Currently, more than 100 officers of Afghanistan army and 300 odd personnel from other wings of ANSF receive training on counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations, signals, engineering and medical.

The number is set to double from July, 2013 as the Army will train close to 800 ANSF personnel. The new courses on offer for Afgnan soldiers include English language, information technology, military policing, and stores and vehicle management, sources told Deccan Herald.

Sources said the issue supplying military hardware to Afghanistan would be discussed further when Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and his Afghan counterpart Ershad Ahmadi would co-chair the first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Political and Security Cooperation – one of the four bilateral forums set up under the Strategic Partnership Council –  within the next three months.

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