How difficult is it for a 17 year old to leave home, family and travel abroad to train at a military academy? New culture, new people, new language, new places and a grueling and transformative four-year period of training… the list is endless.
Despite all of these challenges, these young men and women assimilate, learn, grow and become successful naval officers at the Indian Naval Academy in Ezhimala, ready to return to serve their respective navies.
WION spoke to foreign personnel who completed their training at the Indian Naval Academy and officially left the First Naval Training Institution.
INA trains young men and women who will be appointed officers of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard. INA is also the only defense institution in India to manage ab-initio training for young men and women under the Short Service Commission and the Standing Commission.
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“In addition to training hard with the Indian cadets, we had the opportunity to blend in with Indian culture. We celebrated and enjoyed festivals such as Holi, Diwali and Onam… the brotherhood here and the love shown to me by fellow cadets and their families has never made me feel like the stranger in the past four last years. Second Lieutenant Isuru Senevirathne of Sri Lanka told WION. Notably, he spoke the same thing in fluent Hindi, which he had learned and mastered during his time at the academy.
Upon entering the INA, the trainees come from various cultural, linguistic and socio-economic backgrounds, but, once in the academy, they have only one identity: that of future naval officers. In their crew cuts, shimmering white uniforms, and muscular, chiseled physique, it’s even difficult to identify one caddy from another.
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For Abdullazizi Omar Haji, from Tanzania, his first challenge was to improve his English language at the Academy, in order to better understand the course and communicate with his classmates and instructors.
“I came here after graduating from high school. My parents are home teachers and I am the youngest of four brothers. Here I learned English slowly, with the help of my instructors, classmates and seniors, who helped me a lot. I am also able to understand Hindi now, ”Omar Haji told WION.
Omar and Isuru were among 231 trainees who passed out as naval officers at the Indian Naval Academy over the weekend. These cadets (named Naval Officers) had taken various technical courses at the INA spanning between six months, one year and four years. While Indian officers will continue to serve the Indian Navy, foreign personnel will return to their respective countries.
As part of military diplomacy and in order to build stronger bridges of friendship, India’s defense institutions train military personnel from friendly foreign countries. This helps to develop trust, bond and camaraderie, as well as interoperability between forces. Over the past decades, the Indian Navy alone has trained over 15,000 foreign personnel from over 46 countries.