December 7, 2021 2:48:00 pm
Pune will host a multilateral and multi-agency exercise for the member countries of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) between December 20 and 22, which will focus on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
A curtain raiser event for the HADR exercise titled, PANEX-21, was held at Kothari Auditorium DRDO Bhawan in New Delhi Tuesday. The exercise is slated to be conducted from December 20 to 22 will witness participation from subject matter experts and delegates from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The curtain raiser was presided over by Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt and was attended by civilian and military guests including Tenzin Lekphell, Secretary General, BIMSTEC, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of Integrated Staff (CISC) Air Marshal BR Krishna and the High Commissioners and Ambassadors of the BIMSTEC Nations.
“In his opening address the COAS, Gen MM Naravane, welcomed all the delegates of the member states to the event and urged them to utilize this opportunity to develop mechanisms for close transnational coordination to combat contingencies like the Pandemic in the future. The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, in his talk on ‘Def Cooperation among BIMSTEC Nations’ highlighted the importance of drawing Common Legal Frameworks and setting up Information Sharing Mechanism to facilitate defence cooperation between security and judicial agencies of the member nations,” said a press statement from the Ministry of Defence.
During his address, Bhatt drew the attention of the participants to the significance attached by India to the BIMSTEC, as part of the ‘Neighborhood First’ policy. “The minister mentioned that managing natural disasters in the backdrop of a viral pandemic creates complex risks which cannot be combated by any single agency, but needs a whole of the nation approach. He highlighted the swift and coordinated rescue and relief operation which were launched in India despite the rising number of COVID cases and ongoing national lockdown.” the statement read.
A poster commemorating the forthcoming exercise was also unveiled by Bhatt during the curtain raiser event. The exercise will include a seminar, tabletop exercises and Multi-Agency Exercise from December 20 to 22 at Pune. “The culmination of the event will be with the capability demonstration by Indian Industries in association with FICCI to showcase their capabilities, innovations and range of products available to assist government agencies in planning, preparation and conduct of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations.” the statement added.
The presence of Headquarters Southern Command in Pune, an operational Military Airbase and multiple defence establishments combined with the weather, has made Pune the preferred location for military exercises in the recent past. A large number of these exercises have been held at the Foreign Training Node at Aundh Military Station in Pune. The inaugural edition of the BIMSTEC Nations Military Field Training Exercise ‘MILEX-18’ was held at the Foreign Training Node in Pune in September 2018.
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