THE seventh iteration of the Indo-Sri Lanka Joint Exercise ‘Mitra Shakti’, focused on Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism (CI-CT) operations, was held at Aundh Military Station on Sunday. The exercise has commenced just couple of days after newly elected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks where tackling terrorism was one of the key issues discussed.
On Sunday, Major General K S Brar, Major General General Staff (Operations) Headquarters Southern Command, reviewed the parade in presence of a number of officials of the two countries. The series ‘Mitra Shakti’, which means “power of friendship”, was started in 2012 mainly as a response to China’s efforts to increase its influence in South Asia in general and Indian Ocean region in particular. The exercise is aimed at enhancing interoperability among the armies of both India and Sri Lanka when deployed as part of the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces.
The joint exercise is designed for incorporating the current dynamics of UN peace keeping operations through practical and comprehensive discussions and tactical exercises. The theme of the exercise is to engage the participants of both the armies to adapt and learn each other’s best practices, operational experience and operational capabilities so as to prepare them for the dynamic challenges in CI-CT operations in urban and rural environment under United Nations mandate. The primary focus of the joint training exercise will remain on field craft, battle drill procedures as also the ability to operate jointly with seamless interoperability.
An Indian Army officer said, “Sri Lanka fought the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the past, with India’s support. The Island nation has been a target of terror attacks in the recent past too. India on the other hand is fighting with the terrorism and insurgency in various theatres. Both nations and their armies have learnt lessons, at the cost of innumerable sacrifices. One of the key purposes of the exercise is to share the experiences and apply them to the current global threat of the terrorist organisations. In a joint exercise, this sharing happens at various levels that is right from the leadership to the last soldier who is on the ground.”