Future of Afghan Cadets in India Uncertain

As the Afghan government crumbles before the Taliban advance and the international community rushes to evacuate its citizens and Afghan allies from Kabul, the future of Afghan military personnel training and studying in India remains uncertain. Indian News 18 reported that over 150 soldiers and cadets are stranded in the country; their fate is uncertain.

Indian media shares images of MI-35 helicopter gifted to Afghanistan falling into Taliban hands.

India has supported the Afghan military for years by providing equipment and training. Between 2015 and 2016, India provided Afghanistan with four Mi-35 helicopters and in 2019 it provided three Cheetah light helicopters. Over 700 soldiers received training in India every year on short duration “tailor-made” programs at various Indian defense institutions with thousands receiving training over the years in areas such as cyber and intelligence collection. TheTimes of India quoted an official as saying that:

“Moreover, 80-100 cadets were coming for pre-commissioning training at IMA [Indian Military Academy], OTA [Officers Training Academy] and NDA [National Defense Academy] every year. Though we train cadets of many other countries ranging from Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Vietnam, Myanmar and Tajikistan at our military academies, the Afghans constitute the bulk of the foreign cadets.”

The cadets at IMA are just as worried about their families back home as they are about themselves. The Hindustan Times cited an officer speaking on condition of anonymity:

“The young cadets are worried for their families back home…Their trainers and faculty members are constantly supporting them and trying to keep their morale high. […] Even as their future seems uncertain as the ANA [Afghan National Army] seems to have collapsed, the IMA is not stopping their training.”

Arindam Bagchi is the Indian foreign ministry spokesperson

As the cadets await news about their future, the Indian military is scrambling to evacuate citizens and personnel from Kabul with the ambassador reportedly leaving on an air force plane on 17 August. The government also controversially stated that it will prioritize emergency visas for Hindu and Sikh Afghans.

Image: File photo, Afghan National Army soldiers practice shooting on the firing range, Oct. 2010. (Royal Air Force photo by Sgt. Martin Downs/Released)