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Editorial: Strategic ally

Air power is considered a vital element in military operations against militants and defense against the aggressive foreign forces. Besides quick mobility, the air force also hits the targets with more accuracy than heavy weapons such as mortars and cannons. In ground offensives it is too hard to avoid collateral damage and hit the enemy targets. In dark hours the battle often gets ugly especially when the enemies hold strategic positions at different points. It can cause panic and bring morale of the defense forces to a low point that the enemy could use as a leverage to advance and inflict heavy casualties.

Therefore, air power is key element on which the military commanders on the battlefield can rely to inflict heavy casualties on the enemies while suffering minimum losses. Airstrikes in eastern Nangarhar province had broken the backbone of Daesh, also known as the Islamic State. This global terrorist organization was active in mountainous region. That’s why it was difficult for the ground forces to have an upper hand over Daesh in absence of the air support. The airstrikes forced hundreds of IS fighters to run for their lives. Likewise, in Kunduz the air force was able to restrict the Taliban to certain area.

However, civilian casualties were very unfortunate. According to locals the civilian houses were targeted deliberately. The allegations still to be proved right or wrong because a detailed investigation report has not been surfaced. Avoiding civilian casualties is important to have public on the government’s side. Despite the deadly mistakes, we cannot ignore importance of a strong air force. India has proven a strategic partner in this regard. New Delhi is keen to rebuild the Afghan Air Force. The Indian government has recently supplied four attack helicopters. It is not a full stop to the Indian military assistance which has scaled up this year.

New Delhi is planning to restore the Soviet-era transport aircrafts and choppers by purchasing spare parts from Moscow. Indian will not only provide the spares but also maintenance. It has been told by Indian defense and foreign ministry officials to The Hindu. President Ashraf Ghani, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian officials will discuss restoration and maintenance of the Antonov An-32 military transport aircrafts and around 50 helicopters of different types.

This assistance from New Delhi will boost capacity of the Afghan Air Force and help the government forces to outmaneuver the enemies. It will also increase hard power of Afghanistan. Afghans are thankful for constructive role of India in Afghanistan, and hoping that the military assistance would soon usher in an era of improved security.

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