WASHINGTON: A powerful US Congressional committee has said that India, which is a regional partner to Afghanistan and a major defense partner of the US, is well-suited to assist Kabul in its border security.
In a report attached along with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2018, the all-powerful Senate Armed Services Committee said it believes that India, as a regional partner to Afghanistan and a major defense partner of the US, is well-suited to assist the Government of Afghanistan to improve the security of Afghanistan and the broader region, and can work on a trilateral basis with the US and Afghanistan to do so.
“The committee also believes that timely actions by the Indian government to fill identified needs in Afghanistan would significantly benefit the short- and long-term security and stability of the region,” the Senate Armed Services Committee said as it passed the NDAA-2018.
Concerned by the current stalemate in Afghanistan, the Committee which is headed by Senator John McCain said the US should leverage the capabilities of allies and partners to more effectively secure regional stability and security.
“The committee believes that the US needs to recommit to the fight in Afghanistan and that India, as a major defense partner of the US and a contributor to regional security, has a critical role to play in this effort,” it said.
The Pentagon and the Trump Administration has praised India’s efforts in Afghanistan.
On 9 February, General John W Nicholson, Commander of US Forces—Afghanistan, testified before the committee that “With over USD 2.0 billion development aid executed since 2002, and another USD 1.0 billion pledged in 2016, India’s significant investments in Afghan infrastructure, engineering, training, and humanitarian issues will help develop Afghan human capital and long-term stability”.
In its report, the committee noted that General Nicholson highlighted significant short-term materiel and training needs within the Afghan Air Force (AAF), and has personally urged India to provide this targeted support to meet urgent gaps.
As such it encouraged the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to enhance trilateral cooperation between the Governments of Afghanistan, India, and US for the purposes of strengthening the sovereignty and security of Afghanistan.
In doing so, the committee expects that any increase in investment and assistance pursuant to this trilateral cooperation would take into account the mutual priorities of the three respective governments.
“This assistance could include logistical support; joint training; combined military planning; threat analysis; intelligence, materiel, and maintenance support for Afghan National Defense and Security Forces for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, security assistance, and any other areas deemed appropriate,” it said.