PLA Integration into the Nepal Army: Challenges and Prospects

Nihar R Nayak is Research Fellow at Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile.
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  • September 2009

    Integration of Maoist combatants into the Nepal Army (NA) has become a contentious issue. Although the stakeholders have agreed on the integration process, they are yet to arrive at a consensus on how to attempt it. They have changed their positions frequently over the issue, which has complicated matters further. The NA holds the view that the lack of conventional training of Maoist combatants, as well as their ideological orientation, would have a serious effect on its professional standards. The Maoists argue that soldiers should possess military skills rather than academic qualifications, and claim equal positions in all ranks and file of the NA. Moreover, the process of disarmament of the People's Liberation Army is not complete and this is likely to pose a critical challenge to the integration process. This article argues that Nepal should learn lessons from the South African experience and adopt a civilian integration model, which can accommodate more ex-combatants, rather than focus merely on military integration. Since the Maoists have a long-term plan to reduce the NA's strength, civilian integration would be more appropriate than military integration.