India, China army exercises in Pune next month

India, China army exercises in Pune next month

In the fourth such exercise, the armies of India and China will participate in a drill focussing on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in Pune between November 16 and 27.

India and China zeroed in on a new location and time to conduct the exercise at a final preparatory-level meeting after the Army expressed concerns about Bhatinda, which is close to the Pakistan border, as the venue for the “Hand-in-hand” exercise.
Even earlier, it was decided that the exercise would be held in Barrackpore, West Bengal, but it was later changed to Bhatinda.

Around 180 Indian troops led by a Colonel-rank officer will participate in the drill, which will be conducted under the aegis of the Army's Southern Command. This would be the fourth Army exercise between the two countries and the second in India. The first one was held at Belgaum in November 2008, while two others took place in China – Kunming in 2007 and Chengdu in 2013.

The Chengdu exercise involved about 160 personnel of the Indian Army’s 16 Sikh Light Infantry and, in the similar strength, troops from the 1st Battalion Infantry Division of the People's Liberation Army, 13 group, took part.

At the end of last month’s meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China President Xi Jinping, the two countries released a joint statement that a fourth joint Army exercise would be conducted at a mutually convenient time. The specifics were, however, not mentioned as the Army was having second thoughts about holding the exercise Bhatinda.

A trust-building exercise between the two armies, the mock war drill comes in the wake of the recent flare up at the Chumar sector in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. A two-day meet of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs was held here earlier this week.

The two countries discussed new avenues to reduce border tension, including opening up a new location for border personnel meetings and setting up hot lines between the two armies.

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