Indian Army holds war games with US, Russia

Indian Army holds war games with US, Russia

A helicopter and a tank in coordinated action during the practice of 'Air Cavalry' concept in recently concluded exercise 'Vijay Prahar' at Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan. PTI file photo

India on Monday began two separate military war games with the US and Russia underlining its strategic independence.

US Special Forces from the Pacific Command began their 12-day long joint exercise with the Indian Special Forces at Mahajan Field Firing range in Rajasthan. More than 1,000 km away at Babina in Madhya Pradesh, Russian troops started their drill with Indian soldiers to learn the complexities of anti-terror operations.

“The American Special Forces (one officer and 10 men) will carry out 12 days of rigorous joint training in semi-desert and rural terrain with an aim to enhance the interoperability of the two armed forces. The contingents will train on hostage rescue, building intervention, desert survival, medical aid and combat firing,” said Col Sombit Ghosh, a defence ministry spokesperson in Rajasthan.

At the end of the joint training, the Special Forces from both sides will undertake a three-day outdoor session to validate their best practices.

The Russian and Indian troops at Babina, on the other hand, would focus on tactical level operations in a counter-insurgency environment in semi-urban terrain in the course of their 11-day long exercise, said Col Chiranjeet Konwer, a spokesperson at Army headquarters.

The exercise is a part of the annual Indra series of war games between the Army, Navy and Air Forces of the two nations, which enjoyed a trusted bilateral military relation.

The simultaneous training exercises with two global powers come at a time when India is diversifying its defence relationships, slashing its historical dependence on Russian origin military hardware.

Over the last decade, Washington not only enhanced its share of military trade with New Delhi, but India and the USA have signed two foundational military agreements in the last three years.

While Russia continues to be India's most trusted strategic ally supplying major military wares to India, a March 2018 report from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks arms trade around the world, showed the USA increased its import share to the Indian defence market by a whopping 557% between 2008-12 and 2013-17.

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