India Delivers 50 New Trucks to Afghan National Army
By Master Sgt. D. Keith Johnson, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, March 9, 2005 Balloons were tied to brand-new trucks aligned into an L-shape, ready to be driven away. But salesmen weren't haggling with customers trying to make deals.
U.S. Army Maj. Scott Stewart points to the signature block for Baz Mohammed Jawhari of the Afghan Ministry of Defense as U.S. Col. Len Shartzer and Indian military attache Gen. Nair Balakrishnah look on. Stewart and Shartzer are assigned to the Office of Military Cooperation - Afghanistan. Photo by Master Sgt. D. Keith Johnson, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
The government of India turned over the keys to 50 4-and-a-half-ton trucks donated to Afghanistan in a recent ceremony at the Afghan National Army's 1st Brigade, 201st Corps, motor pool at the Presidential Palace here. The new trucks are the latest installment of vehicles donated by the Indian government to the rebuilding of Afghanistan.
India's foreign minister, Natwar Singh, symbolically turned over the keys to all of the trucks to Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghanistan's defense minister.
"The successes of the Afghan National Army could not have been possible without the help and cooperation of many nations," said Wardak. "Today we are seeing a very good example of such cooperation from a country (with) which Afghanistan enjoys historic and very deep-rooted ties of friendship and cooperation."
To conclude the ceremony, transfer documents were signed by Baz Mohammed Jawhari of the Afghan Ministry of Defense, Indian defense attache Gen. Nair Balakrishnah and U.S. Army Col. Len Shartzer from the Office of Military Cooperation - Afghanistan.
The delivery brings the total to 285 vehicles out of a pledged 300. Fifteen ambulances are scheduled for delivery in the next few months to complete the donation.
"India has been an excellent partner providing support to Afghanistan, and these efforts are very much appreciated," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. David Braxton, director of logistics operations at the Office of Military Cooperation - Afghanistan, the facilitator of the ceremony.
At the Bonn Agreement in March 2002, governments were asked to support the rebuilding of Afghanistan. The government of India decided to support Afghanistan by donating the 300 vehicles. The deliveries started in June 2003. In addition to the 50 trucks donated at the ceremony, India already has delivered 100 2-and-a-half-ton trucks, 120 jeeps and 15 ambulances.
The vehicles, produced by various Indian vehicle manufacturers, are all brand-new, although they are slightly different from their Indian counterparts. The donated vehicles all have the steering wheels on the left side. Indian vehicles, as part of the British influence from years past, usually are driven from the right side.
International donations are important to the future of Afghanistan, and of the Afghan National Army, a point not lost on Wardak.
"It has been a very generous gesture and a good example of regional cooperation," he said. "We are looking forward to further cooperation with the friendly government of India."
(Army Reserve Master Sgt. D. Keith Johnson is assigned to the Office of Military Cooperation-Afghanistan.)