Afindex 2019: Indian Army kicks-off field training exercise with 17 African nations in Pune
Our world is facing a serious challenge wherein various belligerent groups are affecting society across nations. Towards this end, it has become imperative to share best practices in the fields of humanitarian mine assistance and peacekeeping operations to ensure overall peace in the region,” said Major General Sanjeev Sharma, General Officer Commanding, Golden Katar Division, chief guest for the opening ceremony of the inaugural Africa-India Field Training Exercise 2019, Afindex-19, on Monday, at the Aundh Military Station.
Contingents from 17 African nations - Benin, Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe - along with a contingent of the Maratha Light Infantry (Jangi Paltan) representing India, have come together for the first edition of this training exercise.
As part of its defence cooperation, India, over the years, has extended training to a large number of African military officers in various military institutions. India is one of the largest contributors to peacekeeping in Africa.
It has participated in the United Nations peacekeeping missions in Africa and currently, has sizeable contingents in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. The importance of engaging with Africa had been identified at the highest level and had been encapsulated in the India –Africa Forum Summit 2015.
The exercise, Afindex-19, will focus on exchange of best practices between participating nations, team building and tactical level operations in conduct of the United Nations mandated tasks to include establishment of a new mission; siting of a United Nations headquarters for peace keeping operations; siting of military observer sites during the peace keeping missions; protection of civilians; nuances of standing combat deployment; convoy protection; patrolling aspects and aspects related to humanitarian mine assistance.
The field training exercise which will be held from March 18 to March 27 will see contingents comprising 10 personnel each from the participating nations. “The aim of this joint training exercise is to acquaint the contingents with each other’s operational procedures, thus, ensuring better operability and compatibility,” added Sharma.
“Afindex-19 is the very first edition of the joint training conducted between India and 17 African nations. All the troops participating have been part of the various UN missions across the world and to this effect, I am sure that the contingents will benefit immensely from the training exposure focussing on joint drills. I am confident that at the end of the joint training exercise, contingents would have not only achieved military objectives of inter-operability, but also would have enhanced the diplomatic and the cultural bond between the nations and made new friends and comrades in arms,” said Major General Sanjeev Sharma.
Major General Sharma also reviewed the parade during the opening ceremony, in presence of defence attaches and other officials of participating nations. The parade was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Gaurav Seth, who is a part of the participating Indian contingent. A fly past by a set of Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Cheetah Helicopter of the Indian Army carrying the flags of the United Nations, India and the Afindex was the highlight of the opening ceremony.