Indian commandos bring their own cooks to Russia

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Moscow, Sep 13 (UNI) Officers and soldiers of a 162-strong Indian commando unit, due to take part in the INDRA-2007 joint counter-terrorist exercise, have brought their own cooks, but no weapons, to the ancient city of Pskov in north-west Russia.

The Indians, who cannot eat Russian pork-and-beef K-rations, will have their own food cooked according to traditional recipes and will eat separately from the Russian troopers.

Only 62 Indian soldiers will take part in simulated combat operations. On September 12, the 104th Regiment of the Russian Airborne Force's 76th Pskov Air Assault Division hosted an official ceremony to open the initial phase of the INDRA-2007 exercise.

Lieutenant-General Nikolai Ignatov, Deputy Commander of the Russian Airborne Force, and Indian Brigadier General Monoharan addressed the ceremony.

The commander of the Indian unit said that both sides must exchange counter-terrorist experience, that the INDRA-2005 exercise in India had great practical significance and that INDRA-2007 is bound to further boost the troopers' skills and promote joint cooperation.

It will take Indian soldiers a few days to adapt to the local climate and to learn how to use Russian weapons. On September 16, the active phase will commence, with two Russian and Indian Ilyushin Il-76 transports dropping 60 commandos each over a training center near Pskov.

The four combined Russian-Indian units will then have to march 100 km in three days through rugged terrain, including forests, swamps and ravines, before locating and destroying ''terrorist'' bases.

The military personnel of both countries will coordinate joint operations during the exercise. Indian Army Chief J J Singh is expected to visit the Pskov Division on September 16.


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