New Delhi: As India’s defence forces work towards integration and Theaterisation, the Army has initiated a major exercise along the western borders, involving over 30,000 troops, assets of the Air Force, Coast Guard and multiple agencies including central intelligence organisations.

This is the first big exercise being conducted by the Army since the outbreak of Covid-19.

Army sources said the exercise, named Dakshin Shakti, under the Southern Command, is designed to validate new concepts and doctrines for integration of the armed forces and border-guarding forces in the backdrop of the impending Theaterisation process.

Sources explained that while the exercise is not a test bed for Theaterisation, inputs from this integrated warfighting approach will go into the ongoing efforts to work out theatre commands.

India has kickstarted the process for the Theaterisation of its military, which will see multiple unified commands being created over the next “two-three years” to fight battles in the future.

The Army’s South Western Commander, Lieutenant General Amardeep Singh Bhinder, has already been dual-tasked to work out the structures of the Western Theatre Command, which will be based in Jaipur and will look after the border with Pakistan.

“The ongoing exercise is important from the theatre point of view. One cannot claim this exercise to be a precursor to Theaterisation or a test bed, but this will provide valuable inputs to the process which is already on,” a source said.

“The idea is to have seamless integration and communication with multiple agencies involved, some of which report to the Defence Ministry, some to the Home Ministry and some to other central ministries and state governments.”

Training Areas In Rajasthan And Gujarat

The complete Desert Sector, Rann and Creek Sector on the Western Front have been activated for this exercise, which also includes elements from the Bhopal-based 21 Strike Corps.

Sources said the emphasis of the entire exercise is on an integrated approach to war and infusion of high technology.

Multiple new weapons systems besides unmanned aerial vehicles would be part of the exercise, sources said.

As part of Exercise Dakshin Shakti, a multi-agency exercise called Sagar Shakti involving components from the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Border Security Force and Gujarat state security apparatus including police, marine police and fisheries department, was conducted in the Creek Sector of the Kutch Peninsula from 19 to 22 November.

This exercise involved the insertion of troops and manoeuvres by forces in all three dimensions simultaneously in an integrated manner.