Indian armies ready with BIMSTEC countries to compete with Omicron

'Indian armies ready with BIMSTEC countries to compete with Omicron'

Indian armies have also become alert after the knock of the new variant of corona virus in the country, Omicron. The Indian Army is conducting a multi-nation disaster management exercise with BIMSTEC countries with special focus on relief in the backdrop of the pandemic. In the conference held on Tuesday in connection with its preparation, Chief of the Armed Forces General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane have emphasized on being prepared to deal with virus-borne epidemics.

CDS General Rawat said for the three services that it is very important for all of us to be together so that we can support each other in case of any kind of disaster in BIMSTEC countries. Till now there have been various disasters which include some natural, some man-made. Above all, the virus-borne corona epidemic is changing in many forms for which we have to be prepared.

He said that the arrival of new variants of Corona shows that this epidemic is not over yet. Therefore, the Indian Army is conducting a multi-nation disaster management exercise, PENEX-21, with the aim of combating Corona.

Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat on 'Defence Cooperation among BIMSTEC Nations' highlighted the importance of creating common legal framework and establishing information sharing mechanism to facilitate defense cooperation between security and judicial agencies of member countries. Minister of State for Defense Ajay Bhatt drew the attention of the participants to the importance of BIMSTEC countries as part of India's 'Neighbourhood First' policy. He mentioned that the management of natural disasters in the backdrop of a viral pandemic poses complex risks that cannot be tackled by a single agency, but requires an entire nation's approach.

Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and BIMSTEC countries will participate in the multi-nation disaster management exercise to be held in Pune from December 20-22. The objective of this exercise is to promote joint planning and to build regional cooperation to deal with natural disasters. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a seven-nation body for cooperation in areas of common interest. He said that this exercise is being done keeping in mind the challenges of the post-pandemic.

He said that along with the corona pandemic, other natural calamities such as wildfires, flash floods and storms have also given new lessons which include changes in the practice and procedure for disaster mitigation and disaster management. The exercise will be based on three scenarios built on the theme of disaster management in the backdrop of a pandemic. The participants will be divided into eight syndicates, with one syndicate each from the participating countries and two syndicates from India. The exercise will analyze the capability of the participating countries as well as review the existing process for immediate response.

The Army Chief said the exercise would recommend development of an organized structure with mechanisms for response to disasters including capacity development, training, regional pool of experts. Protocols for military-to-military cooperation will also be discussed. It will also be a multi-agency exercise showcasing the Indian Armed Forces and disaster relief equipment. It will also showcase the potential of the Indian private defense industry. It will be inaugurated by the Army Chiefs of BIMSTEC countries and will also be attended by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. This will be followed by a 90-minute demonstration showcasing the Indian HADR capabilities.

Besides the three service chiefs, the Chief of Integrated Staff (CISC) Air Marshal BR Krishna and High Commissioners and Ambassadors of BIMSTEC nations also attended the event. Minister of State for Defense Bhatt also unveiled a poster related to the exercise. The event will conclude with Indian industries in collaboration with FICCI showcasing their capabilities, innovations and the range of products available to assist government agencies in planning, preparing and conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.