Military Exercises with Friendly Countries
Joint training, mutual interaction and sharing of experiences amongst both the armies shall further strengthen cultural and historical ties between the nations and take the bilateral relations forward
JOINT AND COMBINED EXERCISES with friendly foreign countries are an important part of defence cooperation. These involve sharing experiences, understanding the changing dynamics of military operations, developing interoperability and streamlining the procedures for joint and combined operations including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. In the months of September-October, the Indian Army conducted joint operational exercises with France and Nepal.
Indo-French Joint Exercise Shakti 2013
Indo-French Joint Army Exercise ‘ Shakti 2013’ was conducted between the Indian and French Army from September 9-20, 2013, in the French Alps at Grenoble. This was the second joint military exercise between the two countries which have a history of extensive cooperation in the defence arena, the first one was held in India in October 2011. Exercise Shakti moved into the ‘tactical phase’ after a week-long ‘orientation phase’. In the first week, the troops of the Indian Army contingent belonging to the 5th Battalion, the Kumaon Regiment, underwent various modules acclimatising themselves to the terrain, equipment and procedures followed by the French Army. The exercise was conducted in the general area of Tignes in the French Alps region while the contingent was located in a place called Lebouisse. Various activities conducted by the contingent include practice of rappelling at a rock face of approximately 80 metres at Le Chevrin and mountaineering practice on a training circuit called Via Ferratta. The circuit at Via Ferratta has different levels of difficulty and the well-trained Indian contingent impressed their French hosts with their agility and climbing prowess.
The contingents from both countries have also developed a strong relationship by partnering with each other in various joint activities like navigation exercises, medical casualty evacuation drills and presentations on topics of mutual interest. The French Army contingent was particularly impressed with the Indian Army’s experiences in high altitude mountain warfare in the Siachen Glacier.
After the first week, the stage was set for the next phase of the exercise with troops moving to Vulmix, approximately 25 km from Lebouisse for the tactical part wherein operations relating to counter-terrorism were practised. The preparations made by both contingents were tested in an operational environment to derive maximum lessons and the aspects of interoperability as envisaged in the planning phase were validated in the final exercise.
Indo-Nepal Joint Training in Pithoragarh
An Indo-Nepal Joint Military Training, Exercise Surya Kiran-V, was conducted at Pithoragarh from September 23-October 6, 2013. In this exercise, an Infantry battalion from the Indian Army and an equivalent strength from the Nepalese Army shared their experiences gained during the conduct of counter-insurgency operations.
Based on an agreement during the 7th Nepal-India Billeted Consultative Group on Security, the two countries commenced joint training at platoon level (30 men each) in 2011. The first two joint exercises focused primarily on jungle warfare and counterinsurgency operations. Troops shared their experiences and exhibited skill sets during joint training at Counter-insurgency and Jun- gle Warfare School at Vairangate in Mizoram and a similar school at Amlekhganj in Nepal.
The level of joint training was upgraded to company level (consisting of approximately 120 men) in 2012, based on experience gained in previous two exercises in 2011. Company level joint training also focused on counter-insurgency and jungle warfare operations in hilly terrain as the Himalayan region all along Indo-Nepal border is covered with thick jungles. Surya Kiran-V is the fifth IndoNepal training exercise. It aimed not only at training troops in counter-terrorism operations, but also in enhancing defence cooperation and military relations between the two nations. It provided an ideal platform for the personnel of the two countries to share their experiences on counter-terrorists operations; especially in mountainous terrain, as also on aspects of disaster management. The training also envisaged a full-fledged exercise on organisation and conduct of disaster response and disaster management operations.
Joint training, mutual interaction and sharing of experiences amongst both the armies shall further strengthen cultural and historical ties between the nations and take the bilateral relations forward.