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IN an effort to gauge the offensive capabilities of the military in the Southern theatre, the units from key formations of the Southern Command have joined hands with the Indian Air Force to conduct a major exercise — ‘Hamesha Vijayee’ (always victorious) — in the deserts of Rajasthan. The exercise is meant to evaluate the capability of the armed forces, to strike deep into enemy territory in an integrated air-land battle.
For the last two months, the participating formations of the Pune-headquartered Southern Command have been undergoing training for the exercise, which is being conducted in the Jaisalmer-Barmer region from December 16. While Army chief General Bipin Rawat witnessed the exercises undertaken by the units on Thursday, Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will witness the operational manoeuvres on Friday, the last day of the exercise.
“After the preparatory training, a large number of troops, along with tanks and other armoured vehicles, duly supported by heavy land and air-based firepower, have commenced conducting fully integrated operational manoeuvres to validate their operational plans,” said an Army officer.
The Southern Command’s area of responsibility is spread across 40 per cent of the land area of the country.
The officer added, “This effort is unique in its scope and scale, and is being conducted in battle-like conditions. The key aim is fine-tuning surveillance and destruction mechanisms to support precision strikes and manoeuvres by network-enabled forces. There is strong emphasis on joint operations. The exercise would also test sensor to shooter grids by employing a vast array of surveillance and air assets, which are networked with land based strategic and tactical units. Besides large scale conventional warfare, troops will also be rehearsed to operate in the back drop of chemical and nuclear contingencies. It must be highlighted… no important offensives are possible with just one arm of the military. The joint exercises, where two or all three forces join hands, will be conducted more frequently in the future.”
In an official statement, the Army stated, “This exercise, which showcases a high degree of synergy between the Army and Air Force along with new-generation aviation assets of the Army, will be reviewed by a large number of senior officers of both the services to obtain inputs for further refinement of operational procedures. The Southern Command undertakes such exercises at regular intervals to ensure a high degree of battle-readiness as well as validation of operational plans using modern weapons and equipment.”
On Thursday, the Army also paid tribute to the martyrdom of Shourya Chakra awardee Sepoy Dharma Ram, and a memorial was unveiled at his village Taratra, located in Barmer. The ceremony was attended by General Bipin Rawat, Southern Army Commander Lieutenant General D R Soni, Lieutenant General R K Jagga, GOC Konark Corps and Barmer MP Sona Ram. The Army chief also flagged off the ‘Sherdil Yatra’, an expedition which comprised a team of 22 Mahar Regiment, which will trek 700 kilometres across Rajasthan desert on foot in 20 days.