Belgaum (Karnataka), Dec 6: The first-ever Sino-Indian military combat exercises on Indian soil to counter terror and insurgency began on Sarurday, Dec 6 morning.
“The Sino-Indian military joint exercises are drills. We are looking for confidence-building measures," said. Major General V K Narula, Additional Director General (Public Information) at the Army Headquarters, here.
“The joint training exercise is based on a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the defence ministers of two countries," said the leader of Chinese Army delegation, Senior Colonel Huang Xue Cing.
Huang also said that the Indian Army had given a very welcome to the 137-strong Chinese Army contingent.
That a 137-member strong Chinese Army contingent has arrived here to participate in a joint exercise is indicative of the mutual concerns of the two countries on tackling terrorist violence in Asia.
Elaborating on the exercise, Senior Colonel Huang said: “Counter terror should not be against any ethnic group or religion. We should have complete proof before we act."
The joint counter-terror exercise will take place from December 6 to 14. Called the Exercise Hand-in-Hand 2008, the event between the third largest army in the world and the largest army of the world is a continuation of ongoing Army-to-Army cooperation, as part of the Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD) initiated between India and China in 2006.
The current joint army training and exercise in a sense suggests that military cooperation between both countries is growing.
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.
During the course of the joint training, Chinese troops from the 1st Company of the Infantry Battalion of the Chengdu Military Area Command and Indian Army troops from 8 Maratha Light Infantry Battalion, will undertake joint tactical maneuvers and drills; interoperability training and joint command post procedures. The exercise will finally culminate in a joint counter-terrorist operational exercise with the enemy in simulated conditions.
The exercise has been 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 Indian and Chinese Army officials. The helicopter assets of the Indian Air Force will also be incorporated for conducting special heli-borne maneuvers and assault operations.
Sino-Indian military ties have seen a thaw in recent times with the Chinese Navy chief, Admiral Wu Sheng Li, undertaking 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 up since December 2007, when the first-ever joint counter-terrorism exercise between the two armies took place in 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 both countries would hold joint military exercises, and join forces in counter-terrorism operations.