New Delhi, Dec 4 : A 137 member strong Chinese Army contingent arrived in Pune this morning to participate in for first-ever Sino-Indian military combat exercise on Indian soil to jointly counter terror and insurgency.
The first ever Sino-Indian exercise on Indian soil is indicative of the mutual concerns of the two countries in tackling terrorist violence in the region. Sino-Indian Army will hold a joint anti-terror military training from December 6 to 14 in Belgaum in Karnataka
Exercise Hand-in-Hand 2008 between third largest army and largest army of the world is a continuation of the ongoing Army-to-Army cooperation, as part of the Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD), which commenced between India and China in 2006.
The current joint Army training and exercise marks the growing military cooperation between the two countries.
Earlier, India and China had held the first joint naval exercise in November 2003 off Shanghai on China's eastern seaboard. Subsequently, two ships of the Indian Navy also made port calls at Qingdao and participated in a joint exercise with the PLA Navy earlier in 2007.
The Chinese Army contingent after a brief reception was shifted to Belgaum, the venue of the Ex Hand-in-Hand 2008. The exercise is aimed at expanding and strengthening military-to-military ties between the two armed forces.
During the course of joint training, the Chinese troops from the 1st Company of Infantry Battalion of Chengdu Military Area Command and the Indian Army troops from 8 Maratha Light Infantry Battalion, are expected to undergo joint tactical maneuvers and drills; interoperability training; and joint command post procedures, finally culminating in a joint counter-terrorist operational exercise with simulated enemy.
The exercise is planned at mixed company group level with command and control elements from the respective battalions' headquarters.
The training and maneuvers are to be supervised by a joint Directing Panel comprising of army officials of both the Armys. The helicopter assets of the Indian Air Force will also be incorporated for conduct of special heliborne maneuvers and assault operations.
Sino-Indian military ties have seen a thaw in recent times with Chinese Navy chief Admiral Wu Sheng Li coming on his maiden visit to India in November 2008 and Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major going to Beijing.
The military ties between the Indian and Chinese armed forces have been building since December 2007, which led to the first-ever joint counter-terrorism exercise between the two armies at Kunming.
India and China signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2006 during a visit by the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee that stipulated that the two countries would hold joint military exercises, and join forces in counter-terrorism operations. By Praful Kumar Singh