New Delhi, Sep 17 (UNI) In a unique opportunity to share best practices between the elite soldiers of the Indian and British Armed Forces, 'Himalayan Warrior' -- a joint Indo-UK exercise comprising specialist high altitude training -- got underway today in the Ladakh region of the Kashmir Himalayas.
According to an official spokesperson here, the 25-day exercise lasting till October 11, is the culmination of three years of intense interaction between the Royal Marines (RM) mountain leaders and the Indian Army's Gulmarg-based High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS).
During the exercise -- which includes a period of acclimatisation -- emphasis will be given to survival and basic infantry skills in order to improve the ability to operate above 5,000 metres.
The manoeuvres, involving around 100 British soldiers, would include mock strikes on 'enemy' hide-outs and hit-and-run raids by troops operating in small groups at extreme heights of more than 3,500 metres.
The exercises would also involve heliborne operations with small units of troops being dropped at extreme heights and then going through survival endurance tests chased by well-armed pursuers.
The Royal Marines welcome the opportunity to train alongside the Indian Army in one of the most challenging environments in the world that will test their specialist high altitude and mountain leadership skills, the spokesperson observed.
The Royal Marines are the amphibious infantry of the British Armed Forces and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service. They are also the UK's amphibious force and specialists in mountain and Arctic warfare. A core component of the country's Rapid Deployment Force, the Corps is able to operate independently in all types of terrain and is highly- trained as a commando force designed for quick deployment and combat in any terrain in the world.
The Indian airborne forces taking part in 'Exercise Himalayan Warrior' are specially-trained high altitude warfare troops capable of operating independently in varied snow-bound mountainous regions.
They are well-equipped and experienced for conduct of all types of operations in all environments.
Reflecting the growing cooperation in the global war against terror, the thrust of the exercise would be to fine-tune tactics against terrorists, the spokesperson said.
It was on British request that the Ladakh region was selected for the joint manoeuvres as the terrain has an uncanny resemblance to the rugged highlands in Afghanistan where US-led coalition forces are combating Taliban militia.
Most of the participating Royal Marines, including 10 officers, have been drawn from contingents that have had an operational stint in Afghanistan.
The ongoing exercise will be only the second such joint manoeuvres held in the frontier region. Indian and US Special Forces held mountain warfare exercises last year in the same region -- close to the heavily-militarised borders which India shares with Pakistan and China -- raising eyebrows in Beijing.