Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bangladesh army chief visit may lead to joint drills

[TOI] The just-concluded visit of chief of Bangladesh army General Mohammed Abdul Mubeen may pave the way for joint exercises between Indian and Bangladesh armies, it was learnt from army sources in Kolkata. Mubeen was in the city before flying back to Dhaka on Saturday, after a week-long visit to Delhi, Kashmir and Rajasthan.
On Friday, he visited the Eastern Command headquarters in the city and had a talk with GOC-in-C Lieutenant General V. K. Singh, the army chief designate. Army chief General Deepak Kapoor’s presence during a briefing added significance to the event. Mubeen had a meeting with Kapoor also in Delhi and visited field formations and army installations in Leh and some other parts of the country. He also visited some air force training establishments.
In the wake of improved relations with Bangladesh during the Sk Hasina regime in Dhaka, India wanted to improve defence ties with Bangladesh, with an eye on weaning the neighbour away from the sphere of Chinese influence, the sources said. Senior army officials found it strange that the Bangladesh army was having joint exercises with the Chinese army since long, but none with the Indian army.
About a year ago, a joint exercise had been planned between Indian and Bangladeshi special forces at Jorhat in Assam. For undisclosed reasons, the exercise was called off at the last moment. A reason for the mistrust could be the presence of training camps of rebel outfits from northeast India in Bangladesh and their getting help from organizations like Directorate General of Forces Intelligence. With the crackdown on these rebel outfits during Sk Hasina’s regime and arrest of top United Liberation Front of Asom. the perception was changing, the sources said. Mubeen’s visit could lead to joint exercises between troops of the two countries at the elite Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Vairangte in Mizoram. Control of insurgency on the Indo-Bangladesh border continues to be a problem faced by India.
As a part of defence co-operation between Bangladesh and China, Bangladesh military is now equipped predominantly with Chinese hardware, but following the improvement in relations with India could consider helping the Bangladesh military with armament, sources said.

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