Indian Army kicked off a week long Multinational Field Training Exercise (FTX) “Force 18” in Pune at headquarters of the Indian Army’s Southern Command. It will conclude on March 8, 2016. This is the maiden multinational exercise ever conducted by ground forces on Indian soil.
Participants – It involves army units from 18 countries.
- 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
- 8 observer states – India, Japan, Korea, China, Russia, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
Theme – Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) and Peacekeeping Operations (PKO)
Aim – To teach methods for maintaining peace and stability
About Force 18:
The exercise has been conducted on the sidelines of Look East policy and is also the outcome of ADSOM Plus (ASEAN Defence Senior Officers’ Meeting) held in Malaysia in March 2015.
- Indian team, led by Brigadier Ashok Narula started the preparations for Force 18 began in September, 2015.
- In its first phase (from February 24 – March 1, 2016), 28 foreign trainers were trained by the Indian Army. Now, these trainers are forming the training backbone of exercise.
It will enable the armies of participating countries to develop a common understanding in handling any complex situation.
Key Highlight about “Force 18”
The Indian Army contingent of 40 soldiers is being led by Lt Col Sophia Qureshi, a woman Officer from the Corps of Signals.
- With this, she becomes the first woman officer to lead an Indian Army training contingent in a large multinational exercise.
- She is also the only Woman Officer Contingent Commander amongst all other ASEAN Plus contingents present for the exercise.