New Delhi, Oct. 18: Troops of the Russian armed forces’ Eastern Military District began landing in Rajasthan this evening for a joint counter-terrorist wargame with the Indian Army ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow next week.
The seventh drill in the series of exercises called Indra, the wargames from October 19 to 28 would involve mechanised forces of both armies working under a joint command in a scenario that envisages an attack and destruction of a terrorist haven.
The exercise will be conducted at the Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan. Command-level meetings of the exercises would be held in Jodhpur, Jaipur and Bikaner.
About 250 soldiers of Russia’s Eastern Military District would use Russia-supplied tanks and armoured personnel carriers that are in use in the Indian Army.
“Both countries have troops deployed in active counter-insurgency/counter-terrorist operations and therefore, sharing each other’s military experiences will pay meaningful dividends,” said a defence ministry statement.
Army sources said the troops will initially familiarise with each other’s concepts, organisational structures, weapons, equipment, training and tactical drills.
These would graduate to integrated battle drills in semi-desert terrain. Army sources said the exercise involved a scenario in which the two armies were functioning jointly in a UN peacekeeping scenario.
Russia is India’s largest supplier of military hardware but the operational principles of the two armies are contrasting.
The 250 troops from the Russian army who would be here under the command of Lt Gen. Vladimir G. Tzilko are originally based in Siberia. The last edition of the Indra series of exercises was held in Siberia in August 2012.
The mechanised combat groups from India would be led by Colonel Rajesh Nambiar.
The exercises will continue even as Prime Minister Singh leaves for Moscow for a visit that will involve talks on major military projects. India wants to develop its military trading relationship with Russia — in which it is mostly a buyer — to the level of a co-producer and co-developer of weapons.