Beijing and Kabul are poised to deepen military relations by sending troops from Afghanistan to train in China, according to the Afghan ambassador to China.
Jana Mosazai, Afghanistan’s ambassador to China, Vietnam and Mongolia, said that as part of a joint “mountain brigade” established to combat terrorism in the Wakhan Corridor, “there will be some training, obviously, and that will take place in China.” The rugged, thin strip of land extends from northeast Afghanistan to the Chinese border and cuts off what would be Tajikistan’s border with Pakistan.
While Afghan troops will definitely go to China for training, “there will be no Chinese military personnel of any kind on Afghan soil at any time,” Afghanistan’s embassy to Beijing said in a faxed statement to the South China Morning Post in late August.
The brigade is likely to be stationed in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province, where it will conduct operations against militants in Central Asia and China, IHS Jane’s reported Monday.
In addition to helping them train a mountain brigade, Kabul has requested that Beijing equip the Afghan forces as well. “We have requested that they provide combat vehicles, combat helicopters [and] also air capabilities and reconnaissance,” Mosazai told Reuters. The Afghan government has asked Beijing for “grant assistance” so that Kabul can purchase combat helicopters.
One combat chopper that may suit the needs of the Afghan security and defense forces is China’s Harbin Z-20, a medium-lift combat helicopter with a more powerful engine than the US-made Black Hawk, Sputnik reported. India has also delivered Mi-25 attack helicopters to support the Afghan military, according to Sputnik.
In Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain, the US Defense Department’s Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction has admitted that Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters are frequently superior to the Black Hawks the US has sent to help build up the Afghan Air Force. The US has also delivered almost two-dozen A-29 turboprop light attack aircraft to support the AAF, The Diplomat reported in May.
In late August, Sputnik reported that China was building a military base in Afghanistan, which would allow Chinese soldiers to train in the South Asian country and help combat terrorism. The Chinese Foreign Ministry denied the existence of the plan on August 29, saying that reports of a Chinese base in Afghanistan were “not true.”