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Arun asked: What is the significance of Indian participation in international military exercises? What are the advantages of our participation?

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  • Mandip Singh replies: In the domain of international relations, military diplomacy has, in recent years, emerged as a major tool to further diplomatic interests of nations. Participation in international level military exercises is an indication of the highest level of trust and confidence between the member nations. It is a key confidence building measure (CBM) and an indication of the faith reposed by India on another nation or a group of member nations.

    On the operational side, military exercises enable militaries to understand each other’s drills and procedures, overcome language barriers, and facilitate familiarisation with equipment capabilities. It also facilitates understanding and familiarisation with new technologies that other countries may be utilising and enables on-the-job training of each other’s crews. This is particularly useful in the event of joint operations whether in war or in operations other than war (OOTW) - humanitarian aid, disaster relief, anti-piracy, etc – when nations come together for a common cause. A fine example was the aid assistance provided by a host of nations during the tsunami in South East Asia where a massive land, air and sea rescue effort was successfully executed to provide relief to the affected countries.

    Perhaps, the most important advantage of joint military exercises is ‘strategic signalling’. A joint exercise with one or more nations serves the purpose of signalling to a third country of the influence we have in the region and a demonstration of our resolve to further our diplomatic objectives.

    On the intangible side, military exercises promote brotherhood and camaraderie between soldiers and militaries. Besides goodwill, it is a tool for projection of a nation’s soft power – culture, language, customs, beliefs, food habits and lifestyle. Soldiers all over the world have almost similar rank and organisational structures, which helps establish a unique spirit of bonding and friendship between their communities irrespective of the country of origin.

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