Helicopter pilot training, new Coast Guard repair facilities and expanding Special Forces and Marines training—these are some of the issues discussed during the first official visit of the Maldives Defence Minister Mariya Didi and the new Defence Chief General Abdulla Shamaal to India.
Over a week, the delegation held meetings with India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the Military Chiefs, Ministry and Coast Guard officials and visited several facilities including the Naval Information Fusion Centre in Gurugram and the Army Training Centre in Shimla.
Speaking to SNI’s Associate Editor Amitabh P Revi, General Shamaal talked about the radar surveillance network project that has been revived after ex-President Yameen stalled it. He also spoke about common interests in protecting the Indian Ocean Region, why the Dornier gifted is not flying as yet and his reinstatement and appointment as Defence Forces’ Chief.
Maldives’ President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih appointed reinstated Major General Abdulla Shamaal as the Chief of Defence Force in December 2018, weeks after his swearing-in. Despite military service of over 25 years, General Shamaal was one of several senior officers sacked after former President Yameen assumed office in November 2013. He was accused of leaking a letter expressing concern over the delay in presidential polls. In December, 2018, the High Court ordered his reinstatement because of lack of evidence and as he was not allowed to defend himself. The court ruled his dismissal unfair and overturned a civil court ruling in favour of the previous regime. General Shamaal has been trained at top Indian, UK and U.S. military institutions and universities and has three Masters Degrees.
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