A group of 20 Afghan women officers from their Army and Air Force are reportedly undergoing special training along with Indian Army Women Cadets at Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai.
These women army cadet are receiving training on how to fire AK-47 rifles. The Indian Army officers guide them through the entire training process.
Every day, these woman cadets of the Afghan National Army are also trained in ambush operations in the simulation room of OTA.
Each of the cadets come to know how many Afghan Taliban they killed while firing at them.
An extensive training session also takes place on cybersecurity measures. This is just the beginning the army officers of the Indian army say who believe that with some rigorous training, these women cadets will be effective in meeting cybersecurity challenges also.
According to reports, its not just 20 women cadets undergoing specialized training. More than a dozen Afghan woman in war fatigue and head covered with headscarf led by a lady officer of the Indian Army, are undergoing training far from the full glare of the public view. ONe has to walk through a muddy path to reach a green patch of land, surrounded by a white wall. On the wall is written: Shoot to Kill, Ek Goli Ek Dushman and HAT which stands for Hold, Aim, Trigger press. Trained in this Academy, the soldiers, upon graduation, take up crucial positions in the war against terror.
The dozen women cadets constitute the core of the women unit of the Afghan National Army.
The move follows Afghan National Army decision to send out women from each of the tribes of the country (mostly from the northern areas) for a training period of 20 days in India.
The Indian government, driven by strategic and rapidly changing geopolitical concerns in the region, has agreed to it.
These Afghan women have been flown in from Kabul to the OTA as this is the only military institution in India which trains women. Side by side with Indian women cadet, these women of Afghanistan are learning not only to fire AK-47, fight cyber terror and participate in other military trainings but also in confidence building measures to take on the Taliban extremists in their war-torn homeland.
One of these Afghan women named Marwah undergoing training to shoot to kill, when asked why she came to India, pat came the reply, ‘to kill Taliban’.
Marwah’s story is very similar to other women of the Afghan National Army. They are dead against Taliban. They had the support of their family in their fight. They are deeply appreciative of India’s help. They wanted a longer period of training in India. More importantly, they want to go back to Afghanistan and impart whatever they learned in the OTA to other Afghan women.
The Taliban still occupies 43 per cent of the national territory. But the country could witness a revolt–India hopes it could start from its kitchen and is looking to be a valuable partner in this effort.
India thinks the most important aspect of Afghanistan is its location. The country is located right between the countries of erstwhile USSR, China, Pakistan and the major oil producing nations in the Middle East. Any country having its presence in Afghanistan is virtually having an eye over entire Asia. Being the largest democracy of the world and a nuclear power nation, India too must have its influence in Afghanistan. So simple? Not exactly. India has to counterbalance its two tightly-knit neighbors China and Pakistan for myriad reasons. With China it has border disputes on its north and northeast and at the same time compete with it as China rises to become the global economic power with India poised to outflank USA for the second position. Also there is ‘string of pearls’ nightmare Indian thought-leaders are convinced China is drawing it into with military and trade bases around it.
With Pakistan, India firstly has the denial issue glued on its shoulder out of the former’s coming into existence from its partition in 1947. Then there is the Kashmir dispute on the front-burner. Lately, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has become the elephant in the room. And Afghanistan being Pakistan’s backyard has become a happy-hunting ground creating space for India to make its presence felt there. The recently announced Trump’s South Asia policy acts as a draw-bridge for India’s strategic overreach across Pakistan.
Rather than overt and covert military moves, soft power besides training these women cadets is being used by India as tactical measures for its goestrategic goals.
So far, India has provided over US$2 billion in humanitarian and economic aid, making it the largest regional provider of aid for Afghanistan. And more are reportedly in the pipeline on multilateral levels, government-to-government and people-to-people. Recently, the USAID in Afghanistan and India sponsored Afghan-India trade shows.
India has also rebuilt their air links, power plants, highways, and invested heavily in health and education sectors as well as helping to train Afghan civil servants, diplomats and police. Indian teams were sent to Afghanistan to facilitate the same and at a later stage, 2004 onwards, the officials started coming to India for training at Mussouri, Hyderabad and Delhi. India has an important aim behind it: Reinventing Asoka’s Empire as China recreates the ancient road and sea Silk Route with Pakistan– India’s arch rival on its side with whom it must first settle issues (specially Kashmir) before there can be congruency of interests for durable regional peace and economic and trade bonhomie.
Therefore, to have a strong footprint in the Middle-East and Central Asia, it is crucial for India to keep harmonious relations with Afghanistan even if it means turning the landlocked country’s kitchens upside down!
(Based on original report in WION)