Indian Security Forces: Joint Exercises

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Ex-Milan scheduled for February 2022; QUAD countries will participate​

For the first time the US is expected to participate in the biennial Ex Milan which is expected to take place in February 2022 in Visakhapatnam. This means all the QUAD members are going to be part of the naval exercise in which more than 40 navies are expected to come. “Several countries out of the 46 invited have sent in their confirmation,” confirmed a senior officer to Financial Express Online. Those invited include countries from South East Asia like Singapore, Philippines, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia as well as Indian Ocean littoral states

During the 10th edition of the naval drill in 2018, there were participation of 20 ships from other countries, and in 2020, 41 countries were invited to participate and 30 had confirmed, but it was cancelled due to the global shutdown due to pandemic of Coronavirus.

Between 2018-2021 the Indian Navy has increased its engagement with friendly navies as well as in the Indo-Pacific region. “Keeping in mind its operational requirements and relationships with countries, the Indian Navy has been engaging at the bilateral, trilateral as well as multilateral levels with other navies,” explained a senior officer.

As reported earlier, India has had naval drills at trilateral level with Singapore and Thailand in 2019 and is considering the inclusion of Indonesia in it.

Ex-Malabar is held with the navies of India, the US, Australia and Japan deploying their aircraft carriers as well as submarines.

For the first time Ex-Milan is going to take place at Visakhapatnam, this was decided in 2020, under the Eastern Naval Command. It will be in two phases: the Harbour Phase where maritime security and sharing solutions will be discussed and this will be followed by the Sea phase. The exercise with almost 40 navies participating will be more focused on simulation of complex operational scenarios, tactical maneuvers and multi-national groupings with seamanship drills.

According to the Indian Navy each event which will take place during the drill will be aimed at honing the skills of planners, operators, executors, and maintainers, responsibilities and authority onboard a warship. During the Table Top exercises the crews of the participating ships will get an opportunity to have discussions with their international counterparts.

India has over the past few years inked a series of logistics support and white shipping agreements with several countries to improve the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), and to improve the logistics of the armed forces as well as operational turnaround.

Countries expected to participate:

GCC countries
: Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain & Saudi Arabia.

From the neighbourhood: Sri Lanka, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, South Korea, Cambodia among others.

QUAD & AUKUS member countries: The US, the UK, Japan, Australia.

African nations: Mozambique, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Tanzania, Comoros and others.

Other countries like France, Russia, Brunei and many other navies are expected.
 
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RISING SUN

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India and France to hold 6th edition of bilateral Army exercise​

Continuing its series of joint training exercises with friendly nations, the Indian Army will conduct the sixth edition of its exercise with the French Army starting next week.

India has already conducted joint Air Force and Naval exercises with France earlier in the year.

The Army in a statement on Friday said Shakti 2021, the sixth edition of the biennial training exercise, will be conducted from November 15 to November 26 in Frejus, France. A platoon strength of a Gorkha Rifles Infantry Battalion will participate in the exercise, while the French side is being represented by troops of 21st Marine Infantry Regiment of the 6th Light Armoured Brigade.

The Army said the exercise “will focus on Counter Terrorism operations in backdrop of semi-urban terrain under United Nations Mandate with an aim to enhance military cooperation and inter-operability between the two Armies”.

The last edition of the Shakti exercise had taken place at the Foreign Training Node in Mahajan Field Firing Ranges, Rajasthan in 2019, in which “Counter Terrorism operations in semi-desert terrain were practised and validated”, said the Army.

The statement mentioned that Gorkha Rifles contingent, representing the Indian Army “has a rich heritage marked by its military valour and supreme sacrifices with a glorious history of 68 years” and its contributions in 1971 war were recognised by Battle Honour Shingo River Valley and Theatre Honour of Jammu & Kashmir.

The French Army contingent participating, was raised in 1831 under the name of 2nd Marine Regiment and later renamed as 21st Marine Infantry Regiment in 1901, and has an “illustrious operational history of more than 120 years and has participated in all the major wars of French Army”. The regiment, the statement said, “specialises in amphibious warfare and has varied operational experiences in Africa, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Mali”.

India and France carry out three biennial training exercises — Exercise Garuda with the Indian Air Force, Exercise Varuna with the Indian Navy and Exercise Shakti with Indian Army.

Exercise Desert Knight-21, between the Air Forces of the two nations, was held in January at the Jodhpur Air Force Station, with fighter jets from both nations, mid-air refuellers and airborne warning and control system (AWACS) platforms participating. The two forces had conducted six editions of Exercise Garuda earlier, the last being in 2019.

In April, the two Navies participated in the 19th edition of the Varuna exercise in the Arabian Sea. While the French Navy was represented by aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle with Rafale-M fighters, helicopters and other warships, Indian frigates, stealth destroyers, helicopters, submarines and reconnaissance aircraft had participated.
 

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The importance of India, Maldives and Sri Lanka trilateral exercise ‘Dosti’​

idi. Min. thanked them for their presence in 🇲🇻 despite Covid & for their respective Govts’ role in making Dosti the longest-running, most successful Joint Exercise in the region. pic.twitter.com/Q9ucbNrtFD
— Ministry of Defence (@MoDmv) November 22, 2021

This NSA-level maritime security cooperation is important for relations between India and the Maldives and India and Sri Lanka. “It is always better if the navies (and the coast guards) of the three countries understand how they each operate. So this is why these exercises are important,” said Dr. Sultana.


Diplomatic context


These exercises come at a time when the Defence Minister of the Maldives, Mariya Didi, is on a six-day visit to India. Didi will be the first foreign Defence Minister to review the passing out parade at the Indian Naval Academy. India’s High Commissioner to the Maldives, Munu Mahawar met with Didi prior to her departure.


Special gesture for a time-honoured partnership!
Defence Minister @MariyaDidi has embarked on a visit to India; she will be the first Foreign Defence Minister to Review Passing out Parade at the Indian Naval Academy. HC @AmbMunu saw off Minister prior to departure.
(1/2) pic.twitter.com/gTFLwzzHBi
— India in Maldives (@HCIMaldives) November 23, 2021

Didi’s visit to India comes two days after Mahawar met with Didi to discuss bilateral ties between India and the Maldives. During her visit in India, Didi will also be meeting with Maldives National Defence Force personnel undergoing training in India, the High Commission of India in the Maldives had said. “During Didi’s visit, there may be discussion with her counterparts on enhancing security and defence cooperation,” said Dr. Sultana.