With 40,000 troops, Army exercise in Thar desert assesses capability to strike at enemy territory

Sushant Kulkarni
The exercise is being conducted in Thar desert by demarcating an imaginary international border. (Express)

IN a clear message to Pakistan, the Sudarshan Chakra Corps of Indian Army’s Southern Command is conducting one of the biggest military exercises in Thar desert to assess the capabilities to strike across the border deep in enemy territory in the Western theatre. The exercise is aptly named Sindhu Sudarshan, signifying the target of reaching Sindhu river.

The two-month-long exercise Sindhu Sudarshan, which is now in its last leg, comprises 40,000 troops in an ‘all arms’ battle. The term ‘all-arm’ signifies units of rocket launchers, artillery guns, armoured vehicles, infantry and army air defence acting as one battle group and striking into enemy territory with close support of the Air Force. The exercise is being conducted in Thar desert by demarcating an imaginary international border, where deployment of enemy is enacted by a section of troops.

“While the exercise has given us an opportunity to assess our own capabilities, it is undoubtedly a message for the adversaries about our preparedness and resolve. The performance of the battle groups is assessed at every level in order to further improve the battle-readiness of our formations,” said an Army officer.

Officials also explained that one of the key features of the exercise is that the surveillance, destruction and support mechanisms are interconnected in a network.

The exercise also involves a high degree of synergy between the Army and Air Force, with the IAF playing key role of air attack and emergency evacuation. Along with 40,000 troops, 700 Armoured Vehicles and 300 artillery guns of the Sudarshan Chakra Corps of Southern Command have also participated in the exercise. The newly-inducted armed helicopter Rudra, equipped with electro-optical pods, helmet-mounted sights and night vision goggles, are being used. The recently-inducted 155 mm K9 Vajra is also in action.

As part of the effort, multiple integrated battle groups are simulating strikes at various locations along the border of around 100 km. While there is internal communication, the multiple battle groups are also in communication with each other to function as one united offensive.

During the exercise, the individual battle groups first initiate attack using rockets and artillery guns. Later, the armoured elements cross over the demarcated international borders and encircle the enemy units. Subsequently, the infantry formations capture the adversary points. During this effort, the troops enacting the enemy forces respond to the ongoing offensive and subsequent counter actions of the attacking forces are also evaluated and fine-tuned.

Along with the surveillance and offensive systems, the exercise also involves support elements like the air defence wing of the Army and the engineering element. The engineering element facilitates the movement of the troops by removing the mines and laying down mechanical bridges.