In a big boost to the military-to-military diplomacy between India and Kazakhstan, for the first time, Kazakhstan Peacekeeping Company has been deployed with the Indian Army’s JAT Infantry Battalion in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for peacekeeping operations.

The operations that are expected to last for 18 months was first agreed on based on a MoU inked between the two countries earlier this year in August. This is also a first for Kazakhstan to send troops for peacekeeping operations, which is also indicative of the fact that the country wants to play a larger role in global peace.

A top diplomat in the Indian embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan confirmed to FE that “This is the first time Kazakh troops are getting deployed for peacekeeping operations and this is also the first time that they will be under the command of the Indian Battalion (IND BATT) under the blue flag of the UN Peacekeeping operations.”

For India too this is the first time that they are commanding mixed forces under the UN Peacekeeping operations, though the Indian Battalion (IND BATT) has six decade experience under the UN Flag and will now lead the IND-KAZ BATT.

Explaining the formation and the deployment aspects of the forces, while Kazakh side has sent 120 troops, 30 troops out of the 120 is part of the battalion headquarters which are responsible for dealing with operational and administrative issues. Troops based in the head quarters are carrying out mixed patrolling in a coordinated manner. While the Kazak Company is commanded by Major Ayan Nurkassov, Col Jeevan B is the Commanding Officer of 11 JAT, are posted in Ibl al-Saqi, south-eastern Lebanon. The Indian Unit in Lebanon is deployed about 40 Kms of the total 121 Kms of Blue Line which demarcates the borders between Lebanon and Israel. Indian Army has been part of the UN Ops since 1988.

The troops from both countries had undergone intensive one month training in both countries before leaving for the operations.

During her October visit to the country, defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her meeting with her counterpart Nurlan Yermekbayev, had emphasised on stepping up military cooperation, especially in the areas of defence production and military technical cooperation.

According to a statement released at the end of her visit to that country, the defence cooperation includes military-technical cooperation, military education and training, joint military exercises, bilateral exchange of visits and cadet youth exchange programs.

So far around 200 Kazakh defence forces personnel have undergone military training in India and have also conducted a company-level joint military exercise ‘KAZIND-2018’ in south Kazakhstan recently.

With the Kazakh troops, the UNIFIL mission’s total military strength to some 10,600 men and women from 42 countries.