Afghan Army looks to India for morale boost, military support

By The Week

Amidst the Taliban expanding influence across Afghanistan, Afghan Army Chief Gen Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai will visit New Delhi next week to explore possibilities of military support.

During his three-day visit starting July 27, the Afghan Army chief is scheduled to meet key security officials, including the Indian Army Chief General M.M. Naravane and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Strategic observers in India are closely monitoring the visit due to its timing.

Despite their superiority in numbers compared to the Taliban, the military strategy of the Afghan forces seems to be to go on the defensive even as the Taliban continues to be aggressively offensive. The Taliban has blocked Afghan borders with other countries by taking control of border areas. However, they are yet to take control of urban areas.

Major General Shashi Asthana (Retd), a veteran Infantry general with 40 years experience in international fields and the UN, observed that due to the defensive approach of Afghan forces, their morale is slightly down.

Hundreds of Afghan soldiers have either surrendered or ran away after the Taliban assault, leading to a change of guard in the Afghan National Army. General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai was appointed last month along with the new defence and interior ministers in Afghanistan.

“India needs to boost the morale of Afghan forces by providing professional military advice and equipping them with military assets to some extent,” General Asthana said while adding that India has a handicap in helping Afghan forces directly, as the country does not share a border with Afghanistan. It is the PoK that shares border with Afghanistan.

Amid security concerns, India withdrew its staff from the consulate in Kandahar on July 11 and left its consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif and the embassy in Kabul. However, India can provide air maintenance to existing fleet of air assets.

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