I suppose there is no better way to follow Sun Tzu’s advice to “know your enemy” than to conduct joint military exercise with potential enemies.
- “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
- “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
- “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”
There are many potential scenarios which could involve armed conflict between India and China but fewer which would involve conflict between India and Russia. Scenarios in which India cooperates with Russia or China in some military adventures are also not impossible. “Terrorists” make for good common enemies. China would love to label the Dalai Lama as a “terrorist” but this would be unthinkable in India. India labels some “rebel” groups in the North east as “terrorists” but the Chinese prefer to stay on the fence. Both India and Russia dislike “terrorists” in Afghanistan but may not see entirely eye-to-eye on who is a “terrorist” and who is a “freedom fighter”.
Of course Russia is a major equipment supplier to the Indian military and exercises with the Russian military using similar equipment could be of great benefit for India. I suspect the military exercises with China have far greater political and intelligence objectives – for both participants – than the development of any protocols for military cooperation.
The Russian exercise was carried out at the end of last month as part of the Indra series (Indra 13). This was the sixth exercise since 2005.
Desert Storm: Tanks, helicopters and troops practice the art of war in Bikaner during ‘live fire’ Indian-Russian military exercise
25 October 2013 | UPDATED: 00:12 GMT, 26 October 2013
Elite detachments of the Russian and Indian armies concluded combat activities of ‘Indra-13’ exercise on Friday.
The exercises were conducted in the midst of references about raids of the type ‘which got Osama’ in a terrain ‘not dissimilar to that in Afghanistan’. Held in the semi-desert conditions in Rajasthan’s Mahajan Field Firing Range, the combat exercise witnessed the participation of an array of armoured and mechanised forces.
Storming the sand: The Indra-13 exercise in Rajasthan saw live firing by T-72 tanks – Daily Mail
Operating for the last seven days, both the armies jointly plotted taking control of rebel-held territories, neutralising leaders and destruction of camps in a ‘newly born nation torn apart by strife’.
Towards this, live firing was carried out by T-72 tanks, BMP infantry combat vehicles, attack helicopters and other small arms.
Both sides pitched a complement of 250 officers and men each in which the Russians were represented by their 11 Airborne Battalion and Indians by 6 Independent Armoured Brigade.
Despite the exercise focussing on armoured and mechanised warfare, the Russians came without any such assets, under a pre-decided arrangement.
They were then provided Indian equipment to use for the exercise. …….
The military equipment supplied by Russia to India is, I expect, a shade less advanced than their own equipment in performance and in specifications. Which could explain why the Russians did not bring their own – more advanced – equipment to India for the exercise. Or perhaps I am being too cynical?
There was serious border tension between India and China earlier this year with incursions by both into the other’s claimed territory. And so the 10 day military exercise just starting in China is the first in 5 years and has more significance (real and symbolic) than usual.
With focus on terrorism, India-China begin joint military drills
November 6, 2013
India and China on Tuesday began a 10-day joint military drill on counterterrorism — the first such exercise between the neighbours in five years — in southwestern China, with around 300 soldiers from both countries taking part in exercises aimed at boosting trust between the militaries.
The drills began on Tuesday morning in Miaoergang, a town southwest of Chengdu — the provincial capital of the western Sichuan province — with displays of Kungfu by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) contingent and the Gatka martial art, from Punjab, by Indian soldiers. Soldiers also conducted weapons displays with the objective of allowing the other side to become more familiar with the characteristics of weaponry used across the border.
Over the next 10 days, the two contingents — comprising around 160 soldiers each, according to Indian officials, from the 16 Sikh Light Infantry and the 1st Battalion Infantry division of the PLA — will conduct counter-terrorism drills involving tactical hand signals, arrest and escort, hostage rescue, joint attacks and “a comprehensive anti-terror combat drill”, the Chinese State-run Xinhua news agency said.
The drills — the first held in five years — take place only a week after both countries signed a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) to expand confidence-building measures.
Chengdu is the headquarters of one of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) seven Military Area Commands (MACs). The Chengdu MAC holds responsibility for the entire Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), as well as the middle and eastern sections of the border with India.
The drills, analysts say, are more symbolic than substantial: the counterterrorism drills are nowhere near as comprehensive as a full-fledged exercise between two armies. The larger objective is to expand confidence and trust between two militaries, which are often grappling with tensions along the border.
At the same time, the 10-day counterterrorism drill has been seen as being particularly significant in China for two reasons. For one, the exercise follows the recent signing of the BDCA during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit in late October.
Also, the issue of terrorism has come under renewed attention in China in recent days, after last week’s incident in Tiananmen Square where a jeep carrying three Uighurs from the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region drove into a crowd, killing two tourists and injuring 40 others. …..
Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia, leader of the Indian Army observer group, speaks at the inauguration of the India-China joint military drill on counterterrorism at Miaoergang, near Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province on Tuesday. Photo courtesy: PIB