No war drill near Sino-India border during Modi-Xi meet

War drill by Indian Soldiers (PTI Image for Representation)

With the Chinese president in India to take forward the spirit of the Wuhan Summit, the Indian Army goes silent on an ongoing war drill near the Sino-Indian border.

Exercise Him Vijay was meant to examine a new war-fighting concept prepared by the Army, but it turned out to be one of the key irritants that delayed finalisation of the Mamallapuram summit dates, which were announced at the eleventh hour.

Information on the Army exercise spearheaded by Panagarh-based 17 Corps was hushed up to salvage the Xi Jinping-Narendra Modi summit in which the two leaders are to discuss a range of bilateral issues. The drill began on Oct 3 and would culminate on Oct 25.

The Indian Army has not issued any press statement on Ex Him Vijay and a tweet issued by the Eastern Command has quietly been deleted.

On September 28, the Kolkata-based command headquarters tweeted four photographs of soldiers being airlifted for the exercise. “One of the Integrated Battle Groups of Brahmastra Corps (17 Corps) was airlifted as part of the ongoing exercise to practice rapid response to dynamic operational scenarios,” read the tweet, which no longer exists on the Eastern Command's twitter timeline.

The Chinese side was told by Indian officials that the drill was an extension of a routine Army-IAF training exercise that took place last month.

Possibly because of such information fed by New Delhi through the diplomatic channel, the Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui went on to the extent of even denying the occurrence of the military exercise two days before Xi's arrival in Tamil port town.

“As far as we know, the so-called military exercise is not a fact, it is not true. We have no worry at all because that (news about Exercise Him Vijay) is not true,” he had stated in a media briefing in Beijing on October 9.

Sources, however, told DH that the Ex Him Vijay was very much going on as planned, but it would enter into the active phase after October 15. The Army has airlifted field artillery guns to high up in the mountains using the IAF's Mi-17 V5 choppers for the drill.

The exercise is taking place in Arunachal Pradesh at an altitude of nearly 15,000 ft around 100 km from the Line of Actual Control, the de-facto border between the two neighbours.

During the drill, three Integrated Battle Groups from the 17 Corps (Mountain Strike Corps) would be pitted against brigades from the 3 and 4 Corps, based in Tezpur and Rangapahar respectively. The Army plans to replace the conventional brigades with such IBGs for more agile combat experience in the future.

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