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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

A cooperation worth defending

India and Bangladesh's defense partnership sets an example for the entire sub-continent

Update : 29 Jun 2022, 11:26 AM

The Ex SAMPRITI-X military exercise between India and Bangladesh has just concluded in Jessore Military Station in the south-west of Bangladesh.

Just a few days ago, the navies of the two countries also underwent a joint exercise in the Bay of Bengal where two locally-built Indian ships had participated along with their counterparts from Bangladesh -- the exercise was termed as IN-BN CORPAT and was its fourth edition.

Also, on December 16 of last year, the Indian Air Force and Bangladesh Air Force together celebrated the 50thyear of the day the Indian Armed Forces and the Mukti Bahini together forced the Pakistani government to surrender. 

Cooperation between the two nations’ military and border defense forces is always considered as an important step towards building a stronger neighbourhood. Both India and Bangladesh are historically connected with each other right from the time of an undivided India to the formation of Bangladesh.

The people on both sides have faced the independence struggle and have shared similar geography and problems with insurgents. Both India and Bangladesh have, in the past, worked together to curb the insurgents of Northeast India from their shelters in the border areas. Looking at all these, we can definitely say that India and Bangladesh are two of the closest neighbours in the sub-continent, who share a lot of similarities and connections and hence stand to strengthen these bonds even further through various military exercises.

Such exercises can and will help both countries to contribute towards each other’s overall defense goals. 

It is a well known fact that during Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971, India wholeheartedly supported Bangladesh in its independence and from then on the two countries have collaborated together to form a military cooperation. It was India that trained the Mukti Bahinis, it was India that helped in the formation of the Kilo Flight which worked as air support for the Mukti Bahinis and later became Bangladesh Air Force, it was India that sent thousands of soldiers to fight for a free Bangladesh.

All these historical ties have marked a milestone between the strong relation and defense cooperation between the two countries -- which is growing year after year. 

The engagement between the Indian and Bangladeshi armed forces is not new, some of the important joint exercises that the two country conducts after regular interval of time are SAMPRITI, IN-BN CORPAT, IN-BN SF, IN-BN BILAT, SAMVEDNA, and TABLE TOP. 

Bangladesh is among India’s top military friends with whom the nation conducts a number of joint exercises, similar to that of the US. The joint exercises include a vast range of professional trainings such as guerrilla warfare and flood management. Not limited to the armed forces, India’s paramilitary Border Security Force also regularly conducts exercises with its counterpart the Border Guard Bangladesh in difficult areas like the hills of Mizoram, Tripura, and the Sunderbans. 

Last year, while celebrating the 50th year of Bangladesh’s independence, when the President of India was in Bangladesh, an announcement came in that Bangladesh would import defense equipment from India under a $500 million Line of Credit. India had sent a total of 18 120mm mortars to Bangladesh Army in 2020 under an army-to-army cooperation.

This marks another important milestone between the two neighbours as, under this, Bangladesh might buy some of the Made in India defense equipment. India has also invited companies from Bangladesh to invest in its defense industrial corridors to build strong defense collaborations and has offered platforms like Akash along with artillery guns, radars, and ammunition to the Bangladesh Armed Forces. 

It is not just about imports. For the past few years, military collaborations between India and Bangladesh have increased significantly as well. The strategic partnership between the two countries will be one of the most important pillars to support the region and will also help in economic gain for both sides. Bangladesh and India can join hands in various cooperative projects including maritime and port and defense equipment manufacturing.

Both countries are continuously looking towards expanding the armed forces capabilities and, in this journey, the two countries have the potential to contribute a lot towards any and all developments. The secretary also mentioned that India, being an immediate neighbour of Bangladesh, is highly capable with a vast defense manufacturing potential -- with 41 Indian Ordnance factories, nine defence PSUs, and more than 12,000 MSMEs, India also offers software and technological solutions for Bangladesh. 

India and Bangladesh have always been mutual well-wishers and must retain this relationship even in the coming years. The two countries have shown great cooperation on multiple fronts and are becoming the perfect example of inter-regional cooperation. The foreign ministry and defense ministry of both India and Bangladesh regularly interact and collaborate with each other to make a better relation between the two countries. 

Engagements between the defense forces of India and Bangladesh will help to build a stronger defense cooperation, one that would be able to support the sub-continent especially in the Bay of Bengal. 

Subimal Bhattacharjee is a defense and cyber security analyst.

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