No more foreign troops, says NA

- Binod Ghimire, KATHMANDU
No more foreign troops, says NA

May 12, 2015-

The Nepal Army, which has been leading search-and-rescue operations since the April 25 Great Earthquake, has said that it does not need any further foreign military support as its existing resources for airlift capacity were adequate.

As search-and-rescue, the first phase of disaster response, is almost over, there is no need for further foreign military support, said Maj Gen Binoj Basnyat at a press meet at Army headquarters on Monday. Basnyat, who has been coordinating the NA’s “Operation Sankat Mochan”, said that the priority is now relief and humanitarian support, along with rehabilitation and reconstruction.

On Sunday, US Ambassador to Nepal Peter J Bodde had said at a conference for a select group of journalists that more US troops, along with two UH-1 ‘Huey’ helicopters, would be arriving in Nepal for relief distribution. Maj Gen Basnyat, however, said he was unaware of any arrival of additional US troops and helicopters. “We don’t need them now,” he said.

Envoy Bodde had claimed that 50 new trained army personnel would be working in coordination with the Nepal Army, under its Multinational Military Coordination Centre. Currently, 286 US Air Force personnel are in Nepal, along with four Osprey and three UH-1 helicopters.

A high-level Army official said that if the US insists on bringing more troops, they will meet the same fate as that of the British military. Three British Chinook choppers had to return home from New Delhi after the Nepal government refused permission to enter the country on the grounds that they were “not needed”.

“We appreciate the incredible support from the military forces of our friendly nations,” said Nepal Army spokesperson Brig Gen Jagdish Chandra Pokhrel. “But we expect all foreign troops to return by the end of May.”

The NA has said that a total of 4,175 military personnel from 18 countries had arrived in Nepal for search-and-rescue and other humanitarian support, but most are returning home. As many as 1,552 army personnel from various countries have already left while 2,623 are still in the field. Army personnel from Malaysia, Poland, Singapore, Algeria, Bangladesh and Spain have all returned while those from six other countries are expected to leave in a week. However, troops from India, China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Indonesia are expected to leave by the end of this month. Thirty-four aircraft, including 14 from India, seven from the US and three from China, have also been mobilised in search-and-rescue and relief distribution.

“The Nepal Army is already working in 546 areas in the 14 most-affected districts, so there is no need for additional foreign human resource,” said Basnyat. “But we definitely need other logistics.” The Nepal Army lacks equipment for rehabilitation and reconstruction, but it is well-prepared for any probable disaster during monsoon in the quake-affected districts, assured Maj Gen Basnyat.


Published: 12-05-2015 07:23

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