Indo-French Army exercise to start today

Armies from India and France will take on each other in a mock war game in the French Alps for 12 days starting on Monday.

The Shakti-2013 bilateral army exercise is the first of three exercises between the two armed forces in the next seven months. The army exercise would be followed by Varuna exercise between the two navies and Garuda exercise between the two air forces, both of which might happen within the first quarter of 2014, sources said.

For the army exercise, Indian participating troops were drawn from 5 Battalion of the Kumaon regiment of Jaipur Based South Western Command, which will be pitted against 27 Mountain Infantry Brigade from the France Army.  Approximately sixty troops from each side will take part in the exercise between September 9 and 20.

The exercise’s theme is to conduct platoon level joint counter insurgency operations in high altitude mountainous terrain under the United Nations Charter. Indian troops underwent extensive training on rock craft, ice craft and advanced mountaineering techniques at High Altitude Warfare School at Sonamarg in Kashmir to fulfil the exercise mandate.

Indian Army’s vast experience in high altitude warfare after operating in the Siachen Glacier for decades and skills counter insurgency operations held special importance to the France Army, said an army spokesperson.

The bilateral army exercise is taking place three months after Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh visited France in May to boost defence cooperation between the two countries.

French defence minister Jen Yves Le Drian had also visited India in July to further reaffirm the French government’s commitment on the strategic partnership between two nations, including supply of 126 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.

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