Indian military shocks and awes

March 20th, 2008 - 1:11 pm ICT by admin  

By Vishnu Makhijani
Pokhran (Rajasthan), March 20 (IANS) Tanks rumbled across the sand, artillery guns boomed out a cacophony and combat jets dropped precision-guided bombs as the Indian military staged a war game here that was watched by over 100 foreign observers and was an indication of New Delhi’s growing clout on the global stage. “Blazing Chariots”, as the exercise was named, saw the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) coming together Wednesday as the Blue force to “invade” neighbouring Red land to forestall its threatened aggression.

“No, this exercise was not aimed at anyone, nor are we trying to send out a message. We are only demonstrating the synergy that exists between us and the air force,” the Indian Army chief, Gen. Deepak Kapoor, said of the day-long drill that was jointly staged by the army’s Pune-based Southern Command and the IAF’s Gandhinagar-based South West Air Command.

Most of the foreign military observers from 59 countries that witnessed the event seemed to agree, terming it an “excellent” and “admirable” effort.

Be that as it may, it was apparent that the exercise was meant to send out a strong signal to Pakistan, to other countries in India’s neighbourhood and to the world at large that New Delhi was a major player on the regional and global stage.

Reinforcing this was the fact Pakistan was not even invited to the event - while China was.

The exercise was conducted in two parts. In the first, the foreign observers were taken on a 20-km ride through a simulated desert battlefield that had been overrun by the Blue forces.

Along the way, there was live firing as the mighty Bofors 155mm field howitzers displayed their ability to quickly deploy on the battlefield, the Smersh multi-barrelled rocket launcher sent salvo after salvo into the air and the army and the air force first inserted and then extracted a commando team deep behind enemy lines.

The second part saw frontline IAF SU-30MKI and MiG-27 combat jets pulverize an enemy position before a combination of armour and mechanized infantry went in for the kill.

“We already knew India’s armed forces are very professional. The exercise has only reinforced this,” Col. Yossi Turgeman, the Israeli military attach

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