The exercise named “Dharma Guardian” with Japan, which will be held at the Army’s Counter-Insurgency Warfare School at Vairengte (Mizoram) from November 1 to 14, is especially significant since it will be the first-ever joint land military exercise between the two countries.
This will be followed by the “Indra” mechanized infantry exercise with Russia at Babina from November 16 to 29. The “Vajra Prahar” combat drills between the Special Forces of India and US, in turn, will be held at the Mahajan field firing ranges from November 19 to December 2.
“Such exercises constitute an effective diplomatic tool to enhance overall strategic ties and military-to-military cooperation with friendly countries. The resumption of the Hand-in-Hand exercise with China is more of a confidence-building measure between the two armies deployed along the Line of Actual Control from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh,” said a senior officer.
India and Japan have been steadily stepping up their bilateral defence ties, with more military exchanges, training programmes and top-level visits as well as collaboration in maritime security and defence production, with an eye firmly on an aggressive and expansionist China.
“Exercise Dharma Guardian will be yet another step to deepen bilateral strategic ties. It will contribute immensely in developing mutual understanding and respect for each other’s militaries, as also facilitate in tracking the worldwide phenomenon of terrorism,” said Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand.
The Indian Army will be represented by the 6/1 Gorkha Rifles in the exercise, while the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force will field its 32 Infantry Regiment. “The emphasis will be on building interoperability. Both sides will jointly train, plan and execute a series of well-developed tactical drills for neutralization of likely threats that may be encountered in an urban warfare scenario. Experts from both sides will also hold detailed discussions to share their expertise on varied operational aspects,” he added.
India and the US have, of course, been steadily cranking up the scope, strength, complexity and frequency of their bilateral military exercises ranging from “Yudh Abhyas” between their armies to the Malabar naval wargames (with Japan as the third participant). The two have also decided to hold their first-ever mega tri-Service amphibious exercise off the eastern coast of India next year, as was first reported by TOI.
It will be only the second-time India will deploy assets and manpower from its Army, Navy and IAF together for an exercise with a foreign country after the tri-Service Indra wargames were held with Russia at Vladivostok last year.
Russia has been India’s long-standing defence supplier since the 1960s but the militaries from the two countries have not exercised much together. In sharp contrast, India and the US hold a flurry of wargames every year, with Washington also cornering lucrative Indian defence deals worth $17 billion just since 2007.