India pledges to train SL armed forces

Colombo, Oct 8: India will continue to offer training to the Sri Lanka armed forces, and has done so even in “challenging times”, India’s High Commissioner Gopal Baglay said in remarks published on Saturday.
The Island newspaper quoted Baglay as telling a gathering of the Indian Army Trainees Alumni that was attended by many senior serving and retired officers of the Sri Lanka Army trained in India.
Those present included Chief Guest and General Shavendra Silva, the Chief of Defence Staff, and Lt. Gen. Vikum Liyanage, the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army.
Baglay said India stands committed to help Sri Lanka in capacity building in line with its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, the daily reported.
He stressed that India offered training for Sri Lankan armed forces even in “challenging times”, an obvious reference to when the island nation battled Tamil Tiger separatists.
He noted that training engagements between the two armed forces have instilled a spirit of brotherhood and interoperability. Further, engagements of this nature underscore the need for nurturing strong relations with the Indian Army Trainee Alumni in Sri Lanka.
Addressing the gathering, Gen Silva commended the efforts of the High Commissioner in connecting the two countries as friendly, mutually respecting and caring neighbours.
He said India has always been a pillar of strength in training the Sri Lankan armed forces personnel and shares strong cultural, demographical and behavioural similarities as a friendly neighbour.
He expressed his gratitude for the “fully funded and comprehensive training opportunities” offered by India, the Island said.
Training is the strongest and most enduring pillar of bilateral defence cooperation between India and Sri Lanka.”
The Indian defence training institutes offer the largest share of nearly 1,500 training vacancies annually to Sri Lanka.
“Quality training imparted to Sri Lankan personnel in India has contributed immensely towards a mission-ready and cohesive Sri Lanka Armed Forces, the Indian High Commission said.