India to train Sri Lankan soldiers
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
New Delhi, July 1, IRNA
Even as it pushes Sri Lanka to renew political efforts towards resolving its bloody ethnic strife, India is virtually throwing open the doors of its different military institutions to train Sri Lankan soldiers.
In 2008-2009 alone, over 500 Sri Lankan officers and other ranks will receive training in institutions ranging from Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Vairengte (Mizoram) to School of Artillery at Devlali (Maharashtra), apart from undergoing specialized naval courses in gunnery, navigation, communication and anti-submarine warfare, Times of India reported here quoting sources.
This comes even as India has also stepped up military supplies to Sri Lankan forces, even though they are "largely defensive" in nature.
This twin-prolonged strategy of arms supplies and military training, coupled with intelligence sharing and "coordinated" naval patrolling, is primarily aimed to counter China's ever-growing strategic inroads into Sri Lanka.
In fact, the high-level delegation led by national security advisor M K Narayanan, which also included foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and defence secretary Vijay Singh, to Colombo 10 days ago expressed India's concern over Sri Lanka increasingly turning to China and Pakistan for weapons.
Though India has not gone ahead with a long-pending military pact with Sri Lanka due to domestic "Tamil sensitivities", it has reversed its earlier policy of not supplying arms to Colombo.
The arms transfer process, which really began with a Sukanya Class offshore patrol warship in 2002, has been speeded up in recent times, as has been the case with military training.
Though India trains soldiers from several countries, ranging from Maldives, Mauritius and Mongolia to Botswana, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the facilities extended to Sri Lanka are far ahead of others.
The premier Indian Military Academy at Dehradun, for instance, is running two "special courses" in 2008-2009 for as many as 100 "gentlemen cadets" from Sri Lanka.
Moreover, 39 Sri Lankan officers will undergo courses at College of Military Engineering at Pune, 15 in School of Artillery at Devlali, 29 in Mechanised Infantry Regimental Centre at Ahmednagar, 25 in College of Materials Management at Jabalpur, 30 in Electronics and Mechanical Engineering School at Vadodara, 14 at Military College of Telecommunication Engineering at Mhow.
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