HIGHLIGHTING the existing channels of cooperation on the strategic front between India and Sri Lanka, top Sri Lankan military official, Major General HPNK Jayapathirane, said on Saturday in Pune that the joint drills in anti-terror operations will help both countries fight the threat.
The India-Sri Lanka joint training exercise, Exercise Mitra Shakti, concluded at the Foreign Training Node in Aundh Military Station. The exercise ended with a simulated occupation of a village by terrorists and a hostage situation, which was tackled by a joint team from the two armies. The culmination drill was witnessed by Major General Anil Kumar Kashid, General Officer Commanding of the Shahbaaz Division of the Indian Army, in presence of senior Army and defence officials of both participating countries. The Sri Lankan observer delegation was led by Major General HPNK Jayapathirane.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Major General Jayapathirane said, “This exercise is a great opportunity for our troops to mutually learn a lot about the tactics. A lot of knowledge sharing happens between the two forces through such initiatives.”
When asked about the threat perception, that terror groups might be targeting Sri Lanka and southern India, he said, “Yes, there is information in that regard. Our government and intelligence agencies are working on it. Even at the moment we get a lot of help from the Indian government. A lot of intelligence inputs are also shared. Such exercises will certainly help us fight the problem in an effective manner.”
Contingents from the Kumaon Regiment of the Indian Army and Gemunu Watch Infantry Regiment of Sri Lanka had been undergoing the joint exercise to practice sub-unit level counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in urban and rural set-ups. The exercise was being conducted under the United Nations mandate as both the armies contribute to the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, which are deployed in troubled areas across the world.
Addressing the participating troops and observers, Major General Kashid said, “The United Nations mandate necessitates high levels of inter-operability and cohesion among armies to be able to execute these kind of joint operations. Wherever we have been in operation, we have seen that more than once the situation demanded that we operate with contingents of another nationality. Such exercises give confidence to our troops and the ones with whom we are holding the exercise, that we will succeed come what may. The changing dynamics and challenges to the peacekeeping forces require the conduct of updated, relevant realistic training. It is very essential that joint capabilities are developed between the armies. These exercises give us a platform to learn from each other’s best practices.”
Contingents comprising 120 personnel each from Sri Lankan and Indian armies participated in the exercise. The daily routines of the exercise had both outdoor training and classroom components. Some of the latest additions to the topics taught and discussed in the classrooms were perception management and information warfare.
The classroom sessions also had modules on human rights and humanitarian law, also called laws of armed conflict, cyber threats, hostage rescue and casualty management.