Indo-US counter terrorism exercise begins in Mizoram

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Vairengte, Aug 11 (UNI) The Indian and the United States armies have started joint manoeuvres on counter-terrorism in the elite Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare(CIJW) school of India near the Assam- Mizoram border.

The most secretive maouevere, codenamed ''Operation Vajraprahar'', is the fourth round of joint exercises between the special forces of the two countries.

Altogether 28 commandos of the US Army, here since August 2, are being trained in the Army school.

''They are trained to fight insurgents like insurgents,'' said Brigadier Anil Ram, Commander of the CIJW, while briefing a group of visiting newsmen.

''It is a great experience and will go a long way for our commandos as our colleagues are fighting battles against insurgents in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other world theaters,'' said Captain Greg Adams of the US Army.

''The Indian Army is well regarded all over the world and they have been a great host giving us opportunities to learn the nuances of counter-insurgency operations,'' he said.

Earlier, the Indian and American forces had held similar complex battle manoeuvres in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir and in the Alaskan mountains in the US.

The land manoeuvres coincided with front line Indian Air Force Su-30 fighters taking part in the world's most advanced Red Flag air exercises with NATO warplanes.

''The Indo-US special forces manoeuvres are reaching an advanced stage of jointmanship on the theme of tackling terrorism,'' said Brigadier Ram.

The focus of the ongoing exercise is tackling terrorism in urban landscape, with the US forces drawing upon their experience in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Indian forces on their expertise in Jammu and Kashmir.

Four officers and 26 men drawn from the Indian special forces are also participating.

''Apart from a rigorous drill on how to tackle an unconventional war or low intensity conflict, the training module has a session of simulated anti-insurgency operations for the American soldiers,'' said Brigadier Ram.

The school at Vairangte is considered one of world's most prestigious anti-terrorist institutions with troops from several countries getting counter-insurgency training.

''The motto of this institute is to fight a guerrilla like a guerrilla,'' the Brigadier said.

''The training module is non-conventional and once a soldier undergoes training here, he can face all deadly situations anywhere in the world,'' he added.

About 150 American soldiers have already undergone training at Vairengte with the last batch of nine Alaska Army National Guard's Long Range Surveillance Detachment soldiers completing a six-week course in 2004.

''The troops are taught to live in difficult and hostile terrain, eat and sleep like the guerrilla and strike as silently as the guerrilla,'' an instructor at the CIJWS said.

''Soldiers from the US, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal have already undergone training here and we are now getting queries from France, Uzbekistan, Italy, besides some African countries willing to get their soldiers trained here at Vairangte,'' Brigadier Ram said.

The British government recently sought the services of experts from the CIJWS to set up a similar institute in the United Kingdom, the official said.

The Vairengte School at present runs four counter-insurgency and jungle warfare courses open only to officers and soldiers below 28 years of age.

The school was set up in 1970 after Indian soldiers suffered heavy casualties at the hands of north eastern rebels who were adept at hit-and-run guerrilla strikes.

UNI MT PL KLC1352

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