February 2016 News

India, China Hold First Ever Joint Military Exercises In Ladakh

7 February 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: In a major Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between the two once hostile neighbours, troops of India and China conducted 'first ever joint tactical military exercises' in Eastern Ladakh, indicating further improvement in relations between the two nations, which used to be in 'eyeball-to-eyeball' position many times in the same sector couple of years back over frequent incursions by the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Though the Sino-Indian military exercises in the territory of two countries have become regular feature, the last exercise codenames 'Hand in Hand' being held for 10 days in October, this was for the first time that the two Armies held military exercises for a day in Eastern Ladakh sector, where Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries hasn't been demarcated. Northern Command spokesman Col SD Goswami told the Excelsior that the joint military exercises were conducted in Chushul-Moldo area in Eastern Ladakh as a part of ongoing initiatives being taken by India and China to ensure greater interaction between troops of the two countries stationed along the LAC. 'The step was aimed at ensuring peace and tranquility along the LAC in Ladakh,' Col Goswami said. Official sources said the joint military exercises by the Armies of two neighbours focused on the actions to jointly tackle aspects of humanitarian aid, relief and national disaster occurring along the LAC and subsequent coordination and rescue mission by joint Army teams of India and China. Thirty Indian Army personnel participated in the military exercises, led by Col Ritesh Chandra Singh while the PLA delegation of an equal number was headed by Col Qu Yi. The joint exercises lasted full day. 'Codenamed as 'Sino-Indian Cooperation 2016', the joint military exercises by India and China would go a long way in boosting the military ties between the two countries especially in Ladakh sector, where PLA skirmishes had become routine about couple of years back with PLA jawans frequently entering into the Indian territory, pitching tents and claiming Indian territory as their own,' sources said, adding the exercises would lead to friendly relations between the Army officials and help maintain peace on the LAC, which hasn't seen any incursions on the LAC for past over six months. Only in October last year, Sino-Indian troops had held joint 'counter-terrorism military exercises' codenames 'Hand in Hand' 2015 at China's Kunming Military Academy in Yunnan province located in South Western China, which had lasted 10 days. This was followed by about a week-long visit by Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda led seven members delegation of the Command to China from December 14 last year during which they had met top PLA officials and discussed various steps to enhance cooperation and maintain peace between the two countries. Last year also, India and China had opened another Border Meeting Point (BMP) in Ladakh, taking number of total BMPs along the LAC to two. A hotline between Northern Command and China's Lanzhou Military Region head was also under consideration, sources said. Sources said 'Sino-Indian Cooperation 2016' military exercises in Eastern Ladakh complemented the 'Hand in Hand' series of India-China joint exercises and recently conducted border troops exercises in Sikkim. They added that the increase interaction amongst Indian and Chinese border troops is a very positive step in enhancing confidence and building relations between the two Armies. The aim of the exercise is 'to develop joint operating capability, share useful experience in counter-terrorism operations and to promote friendly exchanges between the Armies of India and China,' sources added and revealed that more Confidence Building Measures were on the cards between the two Armies along LAC in Ladakh in the days to come.