India begins training Afghan commandos as ties deepen ahead of 2014

Vikrant

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(Reuters) - - India is training a group of Afghan special forces in the deserts of Rajasthan, army officials said on Friday, deepening its involvement with Afghanistan as its military prepares to secure the country after NATO's withdrawal in 2014.

Afghan military officers have been attending courses in India for years, but this is the first time members of its special forces have held joint exercises with Indian commandos.

Afghanistan has been pressing India for military equipment including helicopters, tanks and field guns as well as greater involvement in the training of Afghan forces as foreign troops withdraw, leaving the Afghan military to deal with a resilient Taliban insurgency.

India has stalled on Afghanistan's wish-list of heavy weapons for fear of provoking Pakistan, as well as armed groups in Afghanistan. But on training, it has begun to play a bigger role as Afghan forces prepare to go it alone.

Nearly 60 members of the Afghan special forces began training with the Indian army's 10 Para brigade early this month at their hub in Jodhpur, in Rajasthan state's Thar desert.

"The focus of the training is on conduct of counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations, with special emphasis on operations in built-up areas and rural areas in a realistic environment," Colonel S.D.Goswami, a defense spokesman said.

The Afghan special forces, which the United States helped set up, are expected to be the spearhead of the fight against the Taliban.

India begins training Afghan commandos as ties deepen ahead of 2014 | Reuters
 

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