India conducts exercise to 'free' Andaman

India conducts exercise to 'free' Andaman

The Indian military, for the first time, carried out a 'Defence of Andaman' exercise that simulated the scenario of retrieving an island in case of invasion by an enemy.

The mock drill involving Indian Air Force's Jaguar ground attack combat jets, army's armoured vehicles and para-commandos took place between November 20 and November 24.

"It is unprecedented. We have never conducted such an exercise," said an officer.

The goal of the war game was to free an island taken over by enemy. It involved fighter operations, para-jumping at night from C-130J Super Hercules, slithering of troops from helicopters and amphibious landing of infantry troops and armoured (BMP) vehicles carried by the navy's tank-landing ships that can come very close to the beach, allowing troops and vehicles to move to the island.

The Indian Navy operates three types of Landing Ship Tank (LST) vessels belonging to the Shardul, Magar and Kumbhir class of warships.

The para-commandos came from Agra, while the armoured vehicles were from the army brigade deployed on the island as part of the tri-service command.

There are 572 islands in Andaman and Nicobar. Many of them are uninhabited. For a long time, security agencies feared intrusion into one of the islands by an enemy, which could even be non-state actors.

Future-ready

"The forces will focus on the takeaways from the exercise for being fully prepared for any eventuality in future," Vice Admiral Bimal Verma said at the conclusion of the exercise.

The maiden Defence of Andaman exercise takes place days after the Indian Coast Guard's Exercise Sagar Kavach that seeks to secure thee islands and respond to any emergency.

The maritime exercise on the eastern sea board comes at a time when China is making an effort to expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean. While Chinese nuclear submarines are frequently criss-crossing the ocean, the communist country has publicly declared its plan to strengthen its maritime forces to assert supremacy in the strategically important region.

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