India and Russia today began their first mega tri-services war game involving their armies, navies and air forces with an aim to boost their operational coordination. The Indian contingent includes nearly 450 personnel while the Russian side is being represented by around 1,000 troops in the 10-day exercise Indra. The opening ceremony of the exercise at Vladivostok was marked by tri-services march-past by both the sides, besides display of traditional martial arts by the Indian troops. “The joint tri-service exercise will be a demonstration of the increasing commitment of both nations to address common challenges across the full spectrum of operations,” the defence ministry said in a statement yesterday. In his address at the opening ceremony, Maj Gen ND Prasad, the Indian task force commander, said that the first ever tri-service exercise between the two countries reflects the vibrancy of the continued Indo-Russian strategic partnership, the defence ministry said here. He said with the rich operational experience of Russian and Indian armies in counter insurgency operations, both sides will gain immensely from each other to further develop their capabilities.
Lt Gen Solomatin, Chief of Staff, Eastern Military District of the Russian Federation, said that the exercise will further strengthen the relationship between the two defence forces. Lt Gen JS Negi, leader of the tri-services observer delegation, said that the conduct of the first ever tri- service exercise between the two countries is a significant step in mutual cooperation and marks an important milestone in the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He expressed his confidence that the joint training between the two defence forces over the next ten days will help them share their best practices and serve in strengthening mutual confidence and interoperability.
The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force have been holding bilateral exercises separately with their Russian counterparts but it is is for the first time that the two countries are carrying out a tri-services exercise.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in June, it was decided to “upgrade and intensify” defence cooperation through joint manufacture, co-production and co- development of key military hardware and equipment.
A vision document, issued then, had said that both the countries also decided to work towards a qualitatively higher level of military-to-military cooperation. India is already working on significantly ramping up its defence capability and has lined up billions of dollars worth of procurement proposals as part of military modernisation.