Sandeep Dikshit

Joint Army training marks growing military cooperation

NEW DELHI: A 137-member team of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) landed in Pune for the first-ever Sino-Indian joint army exercises on Indian soil.

The PLA troops with their equipment were then flown in six Indian Air Force aircraft to Belgaum, where they will link up with their Indian counterparts for the exercises.

The interaction is taking place as part of the bilateral Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD), which began in 2006. The joint Army training and exercise marks the growing military cooperation between the countries, say official sources.

Earlier, India and China held the first joint naval exercise in November 2003 off Shanghai on China’s eastern seaboard. Two ships of the Indian Navy made port calls at Qingdao and participated in a joint exercise with the PLA Navy in 2007.

Called “Exercise Hand-in-Hand 2008,” this is the second in the series, the previous one having been conducted in Kunming in October last year.

Counter-terrorist operation

During the joint exercises, Chinese troops from the 1st Company of Infantry Battalion of Chengdu Military Area Command and the Indian Army troops from 8 Maratha Light Infantry Battalion are expected to undergo joint tactical manoeuvres and drills; interoperability training; and joint command post procedures, culminating in a joint counter-terrorist operation against a simulated enemy.

Joint panel supervision

The exercise is planned at the mixed company group level with command and control elements from the respective battalions’ headquarters. The training and manoeuvres will be supervised by a joint Directing Panel comprising army officials. The IAF’s helicopter assets will be incorporated for special heliborne manoeuvres and assault operations.