Sunday, August 19, 2007

India to give anti-terror lessons to Maldives

With the ever-growing spectre of terrorism looming large over the globe, more and more countries now want to learn from the Indian Army's substantial experience in dealing with militancy, insurgency and sub-conventional operations.

The 1.13-million Army, the third largest in the world, will hold as many as 10 joint military exercises with countries ranging from Maldives, Seychelles, Thailand and Mongolia to Russia, UK, China and, of course, the US, before the end of this year.

The thrust in most of these exercises will be counter-terrorism, both in "urban and rural settings". Apart from building "interoperability", the endeavour also provides India with the opportunity to engage constructively with nations in Central and East Asia as well as those in the Indian Ocean Region.

At the same time, despite the banner of protest raised by the Left, exercises with the US constitute a major chunk of this "encounter" with foreign armies. The Army alone has held around 20 joint exercises with the US over the last five years, with their names ranging from "Balance Iroquois" and "Yudh Abhyas" to "Shatrujeet" and "Vajra Prahar".

In 2007 itself, Indian and US armies are slated to hold five joint exercises. If the navies and air forces are also taken into account, almost 50 Indo-US military exercises have been held in the last five-six years.

Incidentally, the Army's elite Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) at Vairengte in Mizoram is a big hit among foreign armies for its unique facilities, which promise to teach them how to "fight the guerrilla like a guerrilla". And a team of US marines will be back at CIJWS for another exercise between August 25 and September 15.

"Conventional wars as an instrument of state policy have become less relevant today. Sub-conventional operations are emerging as the predominant form of warfare," said a senior officer.

"With India having fought terrorism in J&K and North-East for decades, foreign armies are very keen to learn from our experience, especially after the 9/11 terrorist strikes," he added.

Even countries like Seychelles, Maldives, Thailand and Mongolia are keen to imbibe counter-terrorism skills. The exercise with the Royal Thai Army, named "Maitree", for instance, will be held at Ramgarh from September 1-19 to "share experiences in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism" as well as improve interoperability.

Source: The Times of India

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