By Nallan Chakravarthy Bipindra
New Delhi: After its successful summer war games in Rajasthan and Punjab, the Indian Army is to hold another such massive exercise in winter featuring one of its three potent strike corps in the desert along the western border with Pakistan.
This time, the Bhopal-based 21 Corps will be the formation that will be exercising in the Rajasthan desert sometime in October-December, top sources at Army Headquarters told IANS.
The month-long exercise is aimed at building the capacities of the strike formation in delivering deadly blows to the enemy forces in a short offensive by breaching the hostile army’s defenses and capturing important strategic assets deep inside enemy territory.
The war game will enable the 21 Sudarshan Chakra Corps to showcase its firepower through battle tanks and artillery guns, supported by Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets, attack helicopters and transport aircraft, with nearly 20,000 troops involved in the exercise.
“The exercise is an annual training program of our battle troops,” the sources said.
The summer war game Vijayee Bhava, in the Rajasthan desert in May was conducted by the Ambala-based 2 Kharga Corps, the other of the three strike formations. The exercise Pine Prahar in the plains of Punjab, also in May, was staged by the Jalandhar-based 11 Vajra Corps, a pivot formation with both defensive and offensive elements among its ranks.
Indian battle formations carry out the training in turns, once every three years. “Some formation of the Indian Army is exercising every year and at times, a couple of formations will be doing their war game simultaneously,” the sources said.
This year will witness a unique occurrence, when three of the army’s important corps would have trained hard to perfect the warfare doctrines that Indian armed forces have drafted keeping in mind jointness in operations of the army and air force during war.
Learning from its experience of slow military mobilization as part of Operation Parakram during the stand-off with Pakistan in the aftermath of the December 2001 terror attack on parliament, the army has carried out nearly a dozen major exercises in the western sector from 2004 to validate a new battle doctrine loosely termed Cold Start by think-tanks and the media.
In simple terms, it involves replacing a lumbering elephant with a race horse.
Though army chief General Vijay Kumar Singh has denied the existence of a Cold Start doctrine, he did acknowledge that it had plans for speedy mobilization in case a conflict loomed.
Write to Nallan Chakravarthy Bipindra at email@example.com.