Written by Diplomatic Correspondent
A two-week long joint military exercise to counter terrorism, insurgency and other challenges was conducted as part of the ongoing military cooperation between Bangladesh and India.
The military exercise Sampriti 2019 was held at Bangabandhu Cantonment, Tangail from March 2-15. The 8th edition of exercise Sampriti, commenced with an impressive opening ceremony. The participating contingents marched in and stood side by side and gave a ceremonial salute to the national flags of both the countries to the strains of “Amar Sonar Bangla” and “Jana Gana Mana”... ...
The Bangladesh contingent was represented by 36th East Bengal Battalion, while Indian side was represented by 9th Rajputana Rifles Battalion. Major General Mizanur Rahman Shamim, General Officer Commanding, 19th Infantry Division, Bangladesh Army welcomed the Indian contingent and in his inaugural remarks highlighted he common shared beliefs of democracy, freedom, equality and justice that are precious to both the nations.
The aim of the exercise was to increase mutual cooperation, bonhomie and camaraderie between the two armies through interoperability and joint tactical exercises.
A company group from Bangladesh army and an equal number from Indian Army took part in the two-week long exercise that saw them hone their tactical and technical skills in countering insurgency, counterterrorism and aid to civil authorities for disaster management in an UN peace keeping scenario involving a combined deployment at a battalion level.
Both sides were jointly engaged to train, plan and execute a series of well-developed tactical drills for neutralization of likely threats that may be encountered during simulated UN peace keeping operations. The experts from both sides also held discussions to share each other’s experiences in varied topics of mutual benefits.
In a statement, the Indian Ministry of Defense said the exercise was the 8th edition in the Sampriti series, which started in 2009. Exercise Sampriti strengthens and broadens interoperability and cooperation between the Indian and Bangladesh Armies. It is the fourth Indo-Bangladesh exercise at Tangail, Bangladesh and compliments number of other exchanges and exercise between the two forces.
The commanders and staff officers of both sides were exercised to work in close coordination to receive and collate intelligence and to issue suitable operational orders to the joint field training components who executed these orders on ground in simulated realistic situations.
The joint training culminated in a validation exercise conducted in which subunits from the detachment of both the armies executed the plans. The validation exercise was reviewed by senior officers from both sides. Besides training, both contingents also participated in a number of activities including friendly volleyball and basketball matches.
A magnificent parade and the customary exchange of mementos marked the successful completion of Indo-Bangladesh joint exercise.
The concluding ceremony of the joint drill between the armies of the two countries was held on March 14th at Bangabandhu Cantonment where Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das spoke as the chief guest.
In her speech, the Indian envoy highlighted the special ties between the two nations.
A total of 60 officers, 20 JCOs and 260 members of other ranks from armies of both the countries took part in the training session that began on March 1st under the supervision of 19th Infantry Division of Bangladesh Army, said an ISPR release.
The exercise was aimed to strengthen and broaden the aspects of interoperability and cooperation between Bangladesh and Indian armies and enrich from each other’s experience while carrying out counter-insurgency or counterterrorism operations, added the release.
For the first time in the history of "Exercise Sampriti" series, both the armies undertook exercise related to relief/response operations related to natural disasters -- earthquake, flood etc.
In a statement, Defense Public Relations Officer of India Colonel Chiranjeet Konwer said, “Exercise Sampriti-2019 is an important bilateral defense cooperation endeavour between India and Bangladesh. In addition to understanding each other in tactical level operations, emphasis will also be laid for greater cultural understanding to strengthen military trust and cooperation between the two nations.”
The joint exercise was first held in Assam, India in 2011 and since then both the countries have been hosting the exercise alternatively.
Last year, the exercise was conducted at Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School, Vairengte in Mizoram.
The holding of such joint exercises is symbolic of the strong defense cooperation between the two countries.
Indian Army’s Eastern Command Chief
LT GEN MM NARAVANE Visits Bangladesh
With a mission to enhance military cooperation between Bangladesh and India and to deepen better military ties, Lieutenant General Manoj Mukund Naravane, general officer commander-in-chief (GOC-in-C), Eastern Command of the Indian Army visited Bangladesh from 18th-22nd Mar 2019.
He commenced his tour on 19th Mar 2019 by paying homage to the martyrs at Dhaka in a solemn ceremony. He also visited Liberation War Museum and Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, later and paid homage.
During the visit, Lt Gen MM Naravane called on Bangladesh Army Chief General Aziz Ahmed, Naval Chief Admiral Aurangzeb Chowdhury and Air Chief Marshal Massihuzzaman Serniabat seperately.
The Gen Officers discussed various aspects of defense cooperation including the positive outcomes of various joint events/ expeditions being undertaken by the militaries of both the nations.
Lt Gen MM Naravane also interacted with Lt Gen Sheikh Mamun Khaled, Commandant, National Defense College Bangladesh and Maj Gen Anwarul Momen, Commandant, Bangladesh Military Academy and also visited various facilities of Bangladesh Military Academy.
Lt Gen MM Naravane called on Riva Ganguly Das, the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh during his visit. He also attended a Mukti Joddha Scholarship felicitation ceremony as a Guest of Honor and distributed scholarships to the heirs of Mukti Joddhas.
The Mukti Joddha Scholarship scheme is named as ‘Notun India- Bangladesh Mukti Jodha Sontan Scholarship Scheme’.
A 4-member delegation was accompanied by Lt Gen MM Naravane.
The visit is seen as a positive step towards enhancing the bilateral Defense Cooperation of both the countries.
India Launches 'Smart Fencing' In Assam Border
India launched “smart fencing” comprising electronic surveillance along a difficult stretch of its border in Assam with Bangladesh on March 5th.
This initiative is a part of the Modi government's ambitious plan to completely seal the India-Pakistan and the India-Bangladesh borders in the next few years. It is called the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS).
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique (BOLD-QIT) along a 61km area in Dhubri district where the Brahmaputra river enters Bangladesh under Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) on India-Bangladesh border, said a statement of the ministry.
The issued statement signifies the 61 km border in Dhubri district, where river Brahmaputra enters Bangladesh, comprises vast stretches of sand bank and innumerable river channels, making vigilance a daunting task for the BSF, especially during the rainy season.
India’s Border Security Force (BSF) is responsible for safeguarding of 4,096km long international border with Bangladesh.
Interacting with the media after inaugurating the project, Rajnath Singh said the “smart fencing” will equip the unfenced areas along the riverine border with sensors, enabling the Indian troops to take prompt action against intrusion and other forms of cross-border crime.
He also said that implementation of the project will help in integration of manpower, sensors, networks, intelligence and command and control solutions to improve situational awareness at different levels of the hierarchy in order to facilitate prompt and informed decision-making and quick reaction to emerging situations.
“The BOLD-QIT project will cover the entire span of river Brahmaputra in Dhubri with data network generated by microwave communication, optical fiber cables, day and night surveillance cameras and intrusion-detection system,” he said.
Border Security Force (BSF) Director General KK Sharma told news agency PTI that the maiden testing of technical surveillance and alarm gadgetry was recently operationalized on the 55-km-long stretch in Dhubri, across the Brahmaputra.
At present, BSF troops use speed boats to guard this patch, which is highly prone to illegal migration and cattle smuggling due to the changing course of the mighty river which also implies that no permanent structure - like border posts - can be erected in the area to ensure vigilance.
The Director General said a similar project will be launched shortly along the India-Pakistan International Border, in two stretches of 5 km each, in Jammu.
The technology being tested in the Dhubri region is a mix of surveillance and warning systems, he said, adding, he would not want to go into details about the devices being deployed.
The BSF chief said more than "2,000 kilometer of the border" along Pakistan and Bangladesh will be brought under the ambit of the 'smart fence project' - that uses infrared cameras and radars - out of the total of a little over 6,300 km of the two borders it is tasked to guard.