For the first time a foreign army contingent has come under the command of an Indian Army unit. A Kazakhstan Army company has been co-deployed with an Indian Army unit located in a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, officials said.
The Kazakhstan company, comprising of 120 personnel, have been placed under the Commanding Officer, Col Jeevan B, of the Indian Army’s 11 JAT infantry unit. This means that the officer will be responsible for administrative, discipline and operational matters of the new personnel. “It also means that the Commanding Officer will be responsible for any misconduct by these personnel” explained an official.
What makes this move significant is that it is for the first time in Indian history- whether in UN missions or not- that an Indian Army unit has been broken down by replacing one of its companies with a foreign company. “A unit, which is the smallest fighting element in the army, is a cohesive entity. Its integrity is maintained by its companies that form its sub-units. It is an unprecedented step to have one of these companies removed from the unit and replaced by a foreign company,” explained another official.
Until this move, the command and control of foreign military contingents rested with senior ranking officers only. For example, a task force commander- at the rank of Major General- would command units belonging to foreign armies deployed in a UN mission. But it is not a direct command like a commanding officer of a unit would have, such as in the present case. There was also no breakup and mixing of contingents.
The new company was co-deployed and integrated with 11 JAT located at the Lebanese town called Marjayoun on October 31. Reimbursement- paid for service in UN peacekeeping- for the Kazakhstan troops will be routed through India. Under the Indian unit, the company will carry out UN peacekeeping duties in Lebanon, which includes maintaining the sanctity of the ‘blue line’ that separates the country from Israel. This will be done by area domination tasks and patrolling. Mixed patrolling will also be done by 30 out of 120 Kazakhstan personnel, who have been retained at the battalion headquarters. The remaining 90 personnel have been deployed at a location called UNP 4-3.
The Indian Army deployment is in about 300 sq km out of the 1060 sq km area of Lebanon under the UN mission. Operating in the 300 sq km is the most difficult in the region, due to the mountainous terrain, explained officials.
Before this, the Kazakhstan Army personnel underwent military training imparted by India. Last year, two Indian teams had gone to Kazakhstan to provide this, including on deployment drills. Even 30 Kazakhstan army personnel trained with 11 JAT in Delhi to understand basic UN procedures, the way to operate and achieve a common understanding on reacting to a situation, explained officials.
“The co-deployment and training is to enhance the Kazakhstan army’s capabilities, so that they can independently operate in UN missions,” said an official, adding that it is part of India’s military diplomacy to train friendly countries.