US General wants India to deliver more helicopters to Afghan Air Force

Mi-25-AfghanistanThe top US commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson has welcomed India’s support to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), specifically with the last year’s delivery of Mi-25 gunship helicopters.

Gen. Nicholson is on an official visit to India and has met with several senior Indian officials, including national security adviser Ajit Doval, according to local media reports.

Hailing India’s contributions to boost the capabilities of the Afghan Air Force by supplying Mi-25 gunships, Gen. Nicholson said the U.S. is in favour of India providing greater security assistance to Afghanistan.

“It is up to the Indian government to decide what form it would take… We encourage it,” Gen. Nicholson was quoted as saying in a report by the local The Hindu newspaper.

Gen. Nicholson further added “I know that they [Afghan authorities] have requested more. There is an immediate need for more. If they get these helicopters they will get into the fight soon.”

“The tremendous cooperation India has made in the human capital of Afghan security forces is the one contribution that is going to be enduring,” he said referring to the training provided by India to Afghan forces.

Gen. Nicholson, who’s in Delhi now, said Afghanistan military requires more aircraft. “The Afghan air force needs to expand. We are concerned about making it sustainable, so that they can maintain the aircraft, get their parts in time, etc.”

The remarks by Gen. Nicholson came as the Army chief General Qadam Shah Shahim is expected to visit India to meet Indian officials and hand over a revised wish list to the Indian authorities.

India supplied 3 Mi-25 gunship helicopters to the Afghan Air Force late in the month of December last year with the Afghan officials saying that the helicopters are playing a key role in providing air support to the Afghan forces. -KP

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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