Days after Army chief General Bipin Rawat visited Maldives with the aim to strengthen defence ties with the archipelago nation, contingents from Indian Army and Maldives National Defence Force concluded the 10th edition of the joint military exercise — with focus on counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations — on Sunday.
The Indo-Maldives joint exercise, named Ekuverin, culminated on Sunday with a closing ceremony held at the Foreign Training Node at Aundh Military Station, where the joint team from the two countries executed a drill counter-terrorism operation as per the United Nations mandate. The 14-day exercise started on October 7 and comprised joint training of the contingents in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in a semi-urban environment under the UN mandate, with the aim of developing interoperability and cohesion between the contingents.
Exercise Ekuverin, which means friendship in Dhevehi language, has been conducted alternately in India and Maldives. In India, it was held in Belgaum and Thiruvananthapuram in the past. This was the first time it was conducted in Pune.
The exercise was conducted days after Chief of Army Staff General Rawat visited Maldives and met top leaders of Maldives government and its armed forces. The visit was aimed at strengthening the defence ties between the two countries. As India has been engaging with the strategically-located archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean region, China too has taken steps in the same direction.
Addressing the gathering of participating contingents, Brigadier General Wais Waheed of Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF) said, “The Indian Armed Forces are our closest ally and a steadfast security partner. They have contributed immensely to our defence capacity building, along with training and education. Defence cooperation between the two countries has always been very good and history proves it. India and particularly Indian Armed Forces were there whenever we requested or were in need. Exercise Ekuverin between MNDF marines and Indian Army is one among several endeavours undertaken every year, and I am happy to note that this is the 10th year of this exercise.
“The significance of such bilateral and multilateral exercises is growing all over the world. The strategic and security imperatives of not only the Indian Ocean region but of a wider security arena compel all countries to work together in a unified manner,” he said.
Brigadier General Waheed added, “This is an era of hybrid threats — whether they be violent extremist, terrorism, illicit trafficking of drugs or that of cyber criminals. All these threats are highly complex, interdependent and symbiotic. They operate like a nexus and borrow capabilities and expertise from each other. These threat vectors are highly adaptive, extremely fluid, and travel across international borders. Thus we have to create an equally well-connected, operationally agile force that is able to work seamlessly with not only national stakeholders but also international partners. This is why training like these extremely important.”
The validation exercise on Sunday, which happened amid incessant showers , was reviewed by Major General JJ Mathews of the Indian Army, who said in this address, “Today was the finale of the 10th joint training exercise Ekuverin. It happened in near-Maldivian conditions of lots of rain, water and slush. It has brought out many facets of joint military training. Both Armies have gained from each others’ experiences and expertise.”
The demonstration of a counter-terrorism operation was held at the Foreign Training Node of the Aundh Military station, where the ‘Shivneri’ village was under siege from extremist forces, who had taken control of ‘White House’ and ‘Brown House’ of the village. The joint counter-insurgency squad undertook an operation, which comprised an attack from the land and air-dropped teams. The squad freed the village as terrorists were neutralised.