India, Africa face common threats like terrorism, collective experience helpful to deal with emerging security threats: Army chief Pande

Pune, 28 Mar: India and Africa face common threats like terrorism and violent extremism and the collective experience can help to prepare better to deal with emerging security challenges, Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pande said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the conclave of Army chiefs in which 31 delegates from African nations participated, including 10 Army chiefs, General Pande also stressed that collaborative approach in defence manufacturing will be a win-win situation for India-Africa cooperation.
He said 25 partner nations are participating in the current edition of the AFINDEX military exercise which concludes on Wednesday.
“Our collective experience can help us to better prepare for the emerging security threats,” the Army chief said.
He said many African armies have experience operating in difficult and challenging environments and can offer valuable insights into their tactics, techniques and procedures.
“We face common threats of terrorism and violent extremism that have the potential to adversely affect our development goals,” General Pande said.
The themes of humanitarian mine operations and peacekeeping operations have been specifically chosen in the AFINDEX to cater to the present-day requirements, he said.
The exercise provides an excellent opportunity to exchange best practices, enhance interoperability and camaraderie among participants taking the relations between the armies a notch higher, he said.
Pande also emphasised that the Indian defence industry can contribute towards building the capacity of African defence industries as so create opportunities for Indian companies to expand their reach in the region.
“Collaborative approach in defence manufacturing will be a win-win situation for India-Africa cooperation,” he said.
Pande said India is today the fifth largest economy in the world and it is confident to become the third largest economy in the next five years. The Indian defence manufacturing industry is expected to be a key driver of its fast growing economy, he said.
“We, therefore, aim to nurture a vibrant and world-class defence manufacturing industry in the country. To achieve this goal, our government has undertaken far-reaching reforms in the last few years, aimed to create a business-friendly environment,” he said.
The Army chief said Indian defence industries have made major strides in enhancing their capabilities.
Pande also elaborated on the Indian armed forces’ collaboration with Africa and said they have been traditionally connected with their African counterparts. As early as in 1957, the Indian Army helped establish the military academy in Ethiopia and in 1964, the Nigerian Defence Academy was established, he said.
“Cooperation in the field of training continues till date as nearly 200 African trainees subscribe to our courses annually. This year, India has offered a total of 1,172 army, navy and air forces vacancies for training courses to partner nations in Africa. In addition, the Indian Army teams are deployed in Tanzania, Uganda, Namibia and Seychelles,” he said.
The Indian Army has also deployed short-term mobile training teams to meet specific requirements of partner nations in Africa, Pande said. “In pursuit of greater inclusivity, not only some women officers from African countries are training in Indian defence training institutes, but so are some women cadets under-going pre-training commissioning,” he said.
The Indian Navy partners with African navies in a variety of fields, like coastal surveillance, hydrographic cooperation, humanitarian aid and disaster relief. It also conducts exercises with active participation of the navies of African nations. Similarly, the Indian Air Force also has deep-rooted training engagements with their counterparts in Africa, he said.
Strengthening India-Africa cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism was one of the 10 guiding principles for cooperation with Africa announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018, Pande pointed out.
As one of the largest troop contributors, the Indian Army has been actively involved in peacekeeping operations in Africa since 1960. Five of the six Indian Army battalions are in Africa, he said. The total deployment of Indian personnel on UN Missions in Africa extends 5,000 which includes 150 staff officers and military observers, said Pande.
Lately, a utility helicopter unit has been designated to be deployed in Mali as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Pande said 129 soldiers of the Indian armed fracas have laid down their lives in peacekeeping operations on African soil. (PTI)