A strategic calculation of Indian Army Chief's Bangladesh visit

Defense cooperation between India and Bangladesh has made significant progress in the last few


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A strategic calculation of Indian Army Chief's Bangladesh visit


Defense cooperation between India and Bangladesh has made significant progress in the last few years.

It is depicted in the exchange of visits between the leaders of the two countries, as well as the conduct of training programs, joint exercises, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR). India has always cherished its close ties with Bangladesh and at the same time works to strengthen its ties while contributing to Bangladesh's development agenda. Bangladesh is an important partner under India's flagship 'Neighbourhood First' policy. Cooperation between the two countries is extensive in all areas including trade and commerce, power and energy, transport and connectivity, science and technology, defense and security, maritime affairs, climate change and sustainable development.

Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande on Monday (June 05) embarked on a two-day visit to Bangladesh to hold talks with the top military brass of the neighbouring country to primarily explore ways to further expand bilateral defence and security ties. It is Gen Pande's second visit to Bangladesh as Army chief. He visited the country in July last year on his first foreign visit after assuming charge of the top post.

''During the visit, the Army Chief will be meeting the senior military leadership of Bangladesh where he will discuss avenues for further enhancing Indo-Bangladesh defence relations,'' the Army said.

Other engagements of the Army Chief include formal interactions with the Chief of Army Staff of the Bangladesh Army and the Principal Staff Officer of the Armed forces division. The Bangladesh Chief of Army Staff visited India in April this year and reviewed the passing out parade at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai. ''Frequent visits by senior military leaders and bilateral cooperation events such as joint military exercises contribute to enhancing military-to-military relations between both nations,'' the Army said.

However, the army chief's visit, most importantly, comes at a time when the United States is taking one step after another regarding Bangladesh. The latest step is the new visa policy ahead of the elections.

India is the major country of the subcontinent and India's role in influencing the dynamics of politics in the subcontinent is important. But the US has been taking one step after another in relation to Bangladesh excluding India and these steps have now become a cause of discomfort for India.

Rising US and Western pressure may drive Bangladesh government closer to China because its veto in the United Nations can block adverse resolutions seeking to haul up Bangladesh. Thus, India might help Bangladesh on strategic point. If Bangladesh goes the Pakistan and Sri Lanka way, what’d be left for India in its neighbourhood?

India has no option without supporting Hasina regime in the region for various reasons.  In the case of security of Northwest India and ensuring Indian strategic and business interest in Bangladesh, India needs Bangladesh’s Hasina regime. On the other hand, the Bangladesh government has recently formally set out the 'Indo-Pacific Outlook'. Both parties can usher the ties and cooperation under this Indo-Pacific strategy. The visit is apparently part of the "outstanding" bilateral defense relationship between Bangladesh and India. The Chief of Army Staff's visit could strengthen relations between the two armies at the bilateral level and act as a catalyst for improved coordination and cooperation between the two countries on various strategic issues.

The visit is apparently part of the "outstanding" bilateral defense relationship between Bangladesh and India. The Chief of Army Staff's visit could strengthen relations between the two armies at the bilateral level and act as a catalyst for improved coordination and cooperation between the two countries on various strategic issues.

In South Asia, Bangladesh is an important ally of the India. The two nations work closely together on problems like climate change, counterterrorism, and regional security. This visit may serve to cement bilateral defense ties. Defense cooperation between nations could strengthen bilateral ties. Both India and Bangladesh are essential to the region. Despite some bilateral issues, both countries are greatly interested in further solidifying their bilateral ties, which was made clear by this visit. This could assist in bolstering bilateral ties and reflecting better bilateral understanding. This visit is highly important for Bangladesh and India in the region. Bangladesh and the India must work together as reliable partners to address some shared issues. Through this visit, India and Bangladesh have further reinforced their defense ties.

Defense, security, and strategic connections between India and Bangladesh are expanding daily. Bangladesh is seen by India as an enduring strategic ally. In addition to giving 18 brand-new 120mm mortars to the Bangladesh Army in December 2020 as part of army-to-army cooperation, India has granted a $500 million line of credit to Bangladesh for defense procurement from India.

A 122-member group from Bangladesh’s tri-services also took part in the Republic Day parade in India in January 2021. From March 8–10, two Indian naval ships—INS Kulish and INS Sumedha—visited Bangladesh’s Mongla Port, making it the first naval visit India had made in the previous 50 years. Bangladesh is still India’s “closest neighbor,” and relations with it are at a “golden age.” India wants to strengthen its relationship with Bangladesh just as the US wants to engage with it more strategically. Of sure, both nations would benefit from the situation.

In an effort to improve bilateral defense cooperation, Bangladesh’s new army chief Gen S M Shafiuddin Ahmed and India’s new army chief General Manoj Pande spoke via video chat earlier this month.

It is believed that the two army commanders also discuss how the geopolitical landscape was changing and how that would affect regional security.

In recent years, India and Bangladesh’s defense and security relations have improved. The 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Liberation was in 2021. Both India and Bangladesh have highly trained, experienced military, and they work together to keep the Eastern region peaceful.

The Bangladeshi and Indian militaries are increasingly collaborating on defense. Through a variety of initiatives, such as joint training and drills and defense discussions, the two countries’ armed forces have been working together more and more.

Two defense agreements were signed between Bangladesh and India during Sheikh Hasina’s four-day trip to New Delhi in April 2017. These were the first such pacts inked by India and any of its neighbors. According to the accords, the troops of the two nations would engage in cooperative training and exercises.

In order to achieve self-sufficiency in defense manufacturing in Bangladesh, India will assist Bangladesh in setting up manufacturing and service facilities for the defense platforms that both nations currently possess. Additionally, India will offer the Bangladesh military specialized training as well as technical and logistical support. India also gave a neighboring nation, Bangladesh, its first ever line of credit for defense-related purchases, in the amount of $500 million.

Additionally, the forces of the two nations have taken on a significant role in conducting training programs for dealing with counterterrorism challenges, natural catastrophes, and ensuring humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).

Defence and security are significant elements of India and Bangladesh’s bilateral relations, and the armed forces of the two nations cooperate and coordinate with one another on numerous levels.

On December 15, 2021, the defense issue came up during President Kovind’s meetings with Bangladesh’s top officials.

India has added an additional $500 million to its line of credit for defense products. Under this line of credit, a number of items have been identified and are being accelerated quickly; their processing is at a fair degree of sophistication. (In accordance with news reports)

India presented Bangladesh with a $500 million line of credit in 2019 to help the neighboring nation purchase defense equipment.

The Memorandum of Understanding aims to finance Bangladesh’s acquisition of defense equipment. In April 2017, India promised to provide Bangladesh with a US$ 500 million Line of Credit during Prime Minister Hasina’s visit to New Delhi.

India and Bangladesh have been providing the most soldiers to United Nations peacekeeping missions in terms of bilateral military cooperation. The two Armies’ collaboration has grown in the field of counterterrorism.

India’s determination to combat terrorism in all its manifestations was echoed by Bangladesh’s resolute stance against terrorism. India is aware of Bangladesh’s efforts to prevent terrorist organizations from using space to conduct activities against India. In response, India should keep up its efforts to stop any terrorist group from using its territory to harm Bangladeshi interests.

As a result of the insurgency’s current low point in North-East India, Indian PM, Chief Minister of Assam has thanked Bangladesh for its assistance and emphasized his wish to improve trade and connection between Bangladesh and North-East India.

To strengthen the defense and security facets of their alliance, Bangladesh and India can cooperate in the field of defense. The two nations should be dedicated to further developing the defense and security component of their partnership based on the needs expressed and each party’s ability to respond to them using different methods, including through capacity building and potential technology transfer. India can assist Bangladesh in achieving the goal of implementation of Bangladesh’s visionary military plan “Forces Goal 2030.”

Sent in by Dr Arpita Hazarika

Bio: Dr Arpita Hazarika is a Gauhati University, Assam, India-based researcher. She is very interested in refugee affairs, political economy, security and strategic affairs, and foreign policies of the Asia-Pacific region. She visited a number of countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, UK, USA, France, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, and Canada. She has research works on India-Bangladesh affairs. 


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