India, Nepal plan joint military exercises

KATHMANDU, JUL 27 – Nepal and India are planning to conduct a joint military exercise that will bring battalions of troops to each other’s nation for jungle warfare and counter insurgency training.

Once executed, the endeavor will bring together a squad of over 700 soldiers from India for a specific training course in Nepal and vice versa. It will be the largest joint training exercise executed by the Nepal Army so far, according to military sources.

“The joint military exercise between Nepal Army and Indian Army was limited to the company and platoon level in the past. We are planning to take the exercise to the battalion level,” said Nepal Army Spokesperson Ramindra Chhetri. Currently, the Nepal Army only conducts a joint military exercise with the Indian Army, according to Chhetri.

Last year, a 43-member Indian commando squad visited Nepal Army’s jungle warfare school based in Amlekhgunj to attend “Indo-Nepal Joint Group Training.” Nepal Army had said the exercise then saw the highest number of Indian Army personnel taking part in a single course.

The agenda for upgrading the level of joint exercise figured during the recent visit of Indian Army chief Bikram Singh to Kathmandu. Nepal Army soldiers are set to go to India first for such a joint exercise, said the source.

India is the largest military donor of the Nepal Army with significant contributions in logistics–both lethal and non-lethal–and training. NA cadets used to visit India, more often at the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Vairangte, Mizoram for training.

Companies of the then Royal Nepal Army used to visit Mizoram for training on combating the Maoist insurgency. India had continued training support despite it blocked all other military aid after the royal takeover in 2005.

Army Spokesperson Chhetri said the NA plans to bring soldiers from other countries in the region to participate in joint exercises focusing on the UN peacekeeping services. In 2000, then Royal Nepal Army had organised a multinational exercise on peacekeeping which saw the participation of soldiers from the US, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, among others.

A small number of soldiers from countries including the US, the UK and Bangladesh regularly visit Nepal for jungle and mountain warfare courses.PHANINDRA DAHAL,ekantipur

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