Battle-hardened, infantry’s finest begin anti-terror ops at Bimstec joint military exercise
A historic joint military field training exercise started at the Foreign training node at Aundh in Pune on Monday, with Nepal and Thailand deciding not to participate in the exercise. The joint military exercise is historic in many ways , as it is the first military exercise by member nations of Bimstec (Bay of Bengal initiative for multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation), and being conducted on the backdrop of the 4th Bimstec summit which had conclusively defined terrorism as a transnational problem and fighting terrorism as one of its major goals. The Nepal government led by the Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli decided to not send its troop for the exercise at the last minute.
“Bimstec military exercise 2018 is the first joint training being conducted between the member states of Bimstec nations. All the troops participating from the Indian Army are battle hardened and the finest infantry soldiers. I am sure the contingents will benefit immensely from the training exposure focussing on joint drills,” said chief guest of the event, Major General Sanjeev Sharma, the General-officer-commanding (GOC) headquarters, 11 infantry division, while inaugurating the event on Monday.
Bimstec is tipped to be a forum which has the potential to give strong competition to the South Asian association for regional cooperation (Saarc). While Saarc works on consensus and has failed to openly take action against cross-border terrorism, Bimstec nations in its fourth summit in August this year, (Kathmandu Declaration) focused on counter terrorism, with the word “terrorism” mentioned 22 times in the document.
Keeping in view the requirement of fighting terrorism at the transnational level, an inaugural edition of the Bimstec field training military exercise (Milex 2018) is being conducted with the aim of practicing joint planning and conduct of counter terrorist operations in a semi-urban environment.
The training will focus on enhancing team building, special tactical level counter terrorist operations such as cordon and search, search and destroy, handling and neutralisation of improvised explosive devices. The primary focus of the tactical field exercise is to share best practices amongst the militaries and hone existing skills of the troops in the backdrop of counter terrorist operation in a transnational scenario.
Bimstec was formed in 1997 and over two-decades has focused on core areas of connectivity, poverty alleviation, trade and investment, climate change and energy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the fourth Bimstec summit had proposed a joint military exercise for all member nations and the Indian government wasted no time to implement the proposal. “The Foreign training node at Aundh usually hosts such exercises and has everything in place for such a multinational exercise. Hence, it was easy to get everything organised,” said Lieutenant General DR Soni, Army Commander, Southern Command.
“The aim of this joint training exercise is to acquaint all the armies of the Bimstec nations with each other’s operational procedures, thus ensuring better compatibility in counter-terrorist operations. As we are aware, the world today is facing is major challenge from various terrorist organisations which are affecting the societies across the globe. Towards this end, it has become imperative to share each other’s experiences in the technical drills and procedures to ensure peace in the region,” said Major General Sanjeev Sharma.
Troops from member nations of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka are taking part in the ongoing exercise. The inaugural ceremony also had a fly past with cheetah helicopters displaying the flags of the member nations in a diamond formation. A comprehensive training programme has been drafted over a course of six days for the exercise.
What is Bimstec
Bimstec stands for Bay of Bengal initiative for multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation and is a seven-member nation camp from the Bay of Bengal region.
The region is home to around 1.5 billion people which make up for around 22% of the world’s population.
The region has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.8 trillion.
Why Pune was chosen
“Pune is a preferred location for such exercises as we have the infrastructure and access. It makes it easier for people from different counties to come here and go. The facilities Pune offers in every field, in modern and contemporary, makes it a better place for conducting exercises. This foreign node in Aundh has been specifically developed so that visiting armies and a representative can come, participate and stay to learn and go away as a satisfied training team. We have been conducting improvements, as the requirements keep changing in terms of counter-terrorism,” said Lieutenant General DR Soni, Army Commander, Southern Command.
- Easily accessible
- Pune has been base for such exercises
Thailand has sent observers
Nepal decided to not participate
- Platoon-sized contingents (25-30 members) of armies of member Bimstec nations will participate in this week-long training exercise
- Five officers
- 25 junior commissioned officers plus other ranks
- The training will be supervised by a joint directing panel comprising senior officials of the national contingents