WINDHOEK - Namibia together with other African nations across the region have opened a new chapter in their military cooperation with India, a step stretching the long-standing close relationship between the Asian giant and the African continent.
Military contingents from various African countries along with a contingent from the India Armed Forces came together in India from 16-27 March to participate in the inaugural version of the Africa-India Field Training Exercise (Afindex-19), in an attempt to acquaint the contingents with each other’s operational procedures, thus ensuring better operability and that are in consonance with the United Nations mandate.
Contingents from 17 African nations – Namibia, Benin, Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – along with a contingent of the Maratha Light Infantry (Jangi Paltan) representing India, came together for the first edition of this training exercise.
As part of its defence cooperation, India, over the years, has extended training to a large number of African military officers in various military institutions. India is one of the largest contributors to peacekeeping in Africa.
It has participated in United Nations peacekeeping missions in Africa and currently has sizeable contingents in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
The importance of engaging with Africa had been identified at the highest level and been encapsulated in the India-Africa Forum Summit 2015. Chief public relations officer in the Ministry of Defence, Martin Tomas, yesterday said the exercise Afindex-19, the very first of the joint training, accommodated 10 military personnel from each participating nation and assembled at Aundh Military Station in Pune, India.
“The onus was to exchange best practices, team building and tactical level operations in conduct of the UN operations. It also served as an introductory episode in which participating nations enhance diplomatic and cultural bonds, which are keys in joint military operations,” he noted. According to him, the 10 days of intensive training focused on two crucial trainings: humanitarian mine action and peacekeeping operations.
As part of humanitarian mine action, Tomas said the training included a mine risk awareness program, survey and marking of mine affected areas, establishment and functioning of a mine action center, both manual and mechanical methods of de-mining, instructions of land release post de-mining, and handling and disposal techniques for improvised explosive devices.
Further Tomas maintained that as part of peacekeeping operations, the contingents hugely benefited in shared experiences of various UN peacekeeping missions, training on protection of civilians in war-torn areas, methodology of carrying out patrolling and convoy protection, establishment of a company operating base, as well as command and post and actions to be taken from the company operating base.
He said these activities were orchestrated within the guidelines outlined in the United Nations, Chapter 7, postulating the “actions with respect to threats to peace, breaches of peace and acts of aggression”.
“Our world is facing a serious challenge wherein various belligerent groups are affecting society across nations. Towards this end, it has become imperative to share best practices in the fields of humanitarian mine assistance and peacekeeping operations to ensure overall peace in the region,” the Hindustan Times quoted Major General Sanjeev Sharma, General Officer Commanding, Golden Katar Division, who was a chief guest for the opening ceremony of the inaugural Africa-India Field Training Exercise 2019, Afindex-19, at the Aundh Military Station.