India is persistently engaging with all the major top dogs to execute joint military exercises. Just after its first tri-service war game with the US winded up last week, India is now all set to carry out exercises with several countries like Russia and China simultaneously next month.
India is aiming to not ignore its powerful neighbourhood in this continuing thrust on “defence diplomacy”, lining up exercises with Nepal, China, Bangladesh etc. The exercises are the ‘Indra’ tri-services with Russia, ‘Hand in Hand’ with China, ‘Mitra Shakti’ with Sri Lanka and ‘Surya Kiran’ with Nepal in the December-February time-frame.
A senior defence official stated – “With nations grappling with global terrorism, piracy and gun-running on the high seas, violence by rebel militias and other such threats, the exercises serve to enhance military interoperability, strategic cooperation and confidence-building among nations.”
The Indra exercise will be carried out at Babina, where the army to army drills will be carried out, and the navy and air force capsules will be at Goa and Pune. All the drills will be conducted simultaneously.
The exercise will take place from December 10 to 20. It will involve extensive industrial level mechanised forces, including infantry combat vehicles, fighter jets and warships. Such joint exercises with Russia are much bigger and complex.
The first Indra tri-services exercise with Russia was held in October 2017 at Vladivostok in eastern Russia. Indra is also held as a single service exercise between India and Russia like it did between the armies of the two countries in Babina last year.
At the same time, with China, joint exercises like these are more of confidence-building measures. Continuing with the resumption in military engagements after the freeze due to the Doklam troop face-off during June-August 2017, India and China will hold their eight “Hand-in-Hand” annual exercise at Umroi near Shillong in Meghalaya from December 7 to 20.
It is at the company level that is around 100-120 infantry troops from both sides will be engaging together. It will be based on counter-terrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. The exercise was previously held in December last year at Chengdu, China.
Mitra Shakti, the seventh edition of the India-Sri Lanka joint training exercise will be held at the Foreign Training Node in Pune from December 1 to 14. The objective of the exercise is to build better relations between the two armies while focusing on training for counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in the urban and rural environment. The previous edition of the joint exercise was executed in Sri Lanka.
The Indian Army announced to carry out the ‘Surya Kiran’ exercise with the Nepal Army from December 3 to 16 in Nepal. Company level troops from both sides will partake in the exercise . The previous edition was organised at Pithoragarh from May to June last year.
India is the only country that holds exercises with all the P-5 countries (US, Russia, China, France and UK), apart from others like Australia, Japan, South Africa and Brazil as well as ASEAN countries like Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.