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

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Kapoor

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.

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