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India,Russia flaunt military in first battalion level joint exercise

A mock village depicting a heavy concentration of rebels was set up at the firing range.

The semi-arid terrain of Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan became the ground zero of the INDRA 2013 joint exercise between Indian and Russian troops from October 22-26.

Aimed at improving their ability to conduct peacekeeping operations for the United Nations,this was the first ever battalion level joint exercise between the two nations.

“It is for the first time that a series of exercises is being conducted under a joint planning cell of Russia and India. It is for the first time that we have integrated with each other to such a great extent. Today’s (Friday) exercise had Russian ranks operating under an Indian commander and vice versa,” Lt. General Kiran Ghai,(GOC),10th Corps Commander said.

Since October 22,both countries have been engaged in anti-terror operations. Friday’s exercise,called Gangneva,saw mechanised forces of both countries launch a fire assault on a mock rebel stronghold. Apart from state of the art equipment for surveillance and target acquisition,the forces had attack helicopters and tanks to back them up.

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A mock village depicting a heavy concentration of rebels was set up at the firing range for the operation. On October 22-23,in an exercise called Vindhural,troops of both armies conducted search and destroy operations as well as evacuation drills in the village.

“India has always had a special relationship with Russia which dates back to the 1950s,when they helped us build what are known as modern pillars of the country. Defence co-operation between the two countries started in the 1960s. The first joint exercise under INDRA was held in Agra in 2005,” Lt. General Ghai said.

Russia’s Lt. General Tsilko also stressed the importance of defence cooperation between the two countries.

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While Army officials from both countries admitted that language served as a barrier at first,they said the final outcome was satisfying. “The joint exercise was done under tough circumstances but despite that the firing was accurate. We have full faith in our mechanised divisions,” said Lt. Gen. Ghai.

First published on: 28-10-2013 at 03:10 IST
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