2 minute readFirst Indo-French army exercise begins

New Delhi: India and France Monday began their first-ever joint army war game with platoon-sized forces from each side undertaking counter-terrorism operations at Chaubatia in Uttarakhand.

The Shakti-2011 exercise “is aimed at enhancing various combat skills, promoting mutual understanding and inter-operability between the two armies,” an army release here said.

In the 15-day exercise, 60 French troops of the elite 13 Mountain Battalion and an equal number of personnel from the 2 Bihar Regiment under the 99 Mountain Brigade will be sharing counter-terrorism tips and carrying out a simulated joint operation to achieve better understanding of each others’ methods of combat.

“During the course of training, the troops from the two countries will practice basic combat tactics related to various aspects of counter-terrorism operations in detail and exchange their combat techniques and skills. The training syllabus also includes sharing of each others’ experiences and lessons drawn from operations undertaken by the two great armies,” the release said.

“The highlights of this training would be the final consolidation exercise in which troops of both armies will jointly plan and execute a series of counter terrorist operations including mountain techniques and employment of commandos in the thick forests on the outskirts of Ranikhet,” it added.

Shakti-2011 is a sign of growing military-to-military relations between the two strategic partners in geopolitics, with France being an staunch supporter of India’s candidature for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council, apart from being a partner in the civilian nuclear power sector.

India has recently short-listed the French Rafale fighter jet for the USD 10.4 billion tender for 126 combat aircraft for its air force. Rafale is pitted against European consortium EADS’ Eurofighter Typhoon. The lowest bidder among the two will be known by middle of November.

India had in July also signed a deal with French defense firms Thales and Dassault for upgrade of its 51 Mirage-2000 fighter jets of the 1980s vintage at a cost of USD 2.4 billion.

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