Army to Army staff talks: India and Sri Lanka discuss future course of action

THE NINTH edition of the Army to Army Staff Talks (AAST) between delegations from the Indian and Sri Lankan armed forces concluded in Pune on Saturday with a discussion on the intended course of action in the coming years.

A delegation of six Sri Lankan armed forces officers was on a three-day visit to India as part of AAST from February 10 to 12. AAST was organised by the Agnibaaz Division under the aegis of Headquarters, Southern Command of the Indian Army, with an aim to foster better coordination between the militaries of the two neighbours.

The staff conference was led by Major General Anil Kumar Kashid, Additional Director General International Cooperation, who headed the Indian Army delegation and Major General HP Ranasinghe who headed the Sri Lankan Army delegation. Both countries discussed agenda points focusing on key issues related to training, conduct of bilateral and multilateral exercises, enhancing relations in fields of arts, sports and cultural exchanges. “Conference culminated with discussion on progress of already implemented matters and planned intended course of action in the forthcoming years. The talks were testimony of ever increasing bilateral military cooperation and understanding between the two nations,” said a press statement from the Indian Army issued on Sunday.

The first edition of the talks was held back in 2011, and have since focused on defence cooperation, training, joint military exercises and exchanges in other areas between two countries who are neighbours in the strategically significant Indian Ocean Region (IOR). These annual talks, alternately held in India and Sri Lanka, also include guest delegations’ visits to various places of interest.

On February 11, the Sri Lankan delegation visited the Military Institute of Technology (MILIT) and National Defence Academy (NDA). The team interacted with Commandant and faculty on the training methodology and best practices being undertaken at MILIT. The delegation was briefed on armed forces related technological studies being undertaken at MILIT and also interacted with the Sri Lankan Army student officers attending Defence Services Technical Staff Course course at MILIT.

The visit to NDA was aimed towards enhancing cooperation as part of the ‘Training Exchange Program’ between both countries which has been the strongest and most enduring pillar of India Sri Lanka bilateral defence cooperation. The delegation members were briefed about the training methodology and associated infrastructure at NDA. Sri Lankan cadets undergoing training at NDA also met the delegation members at the NDA Cadets’ Mess. The delegation called on NDA Commandant Air Marshal Sanjeev Kapoor.

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