A detachment of 56 personnel from the 35th Infantry Regiment (35e RI) of the French army’s 7th Armoured Brigade is currently in India for the joint Shakti 2016 exercise with the 2nd Battalion Garhwal Rifles, in order to improve their counter-insurrection and counter-terrorism interoperability.
The exercise is an important step for the armies to train together and gain from each other’s rich operational experience, a statement by the Indian Army said.
Launched on 8th January on the Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Bikaner in the state of Rajasthan (western India), participants in Shakti 2016 are engaging in a variety of missions from joint planning, cordon and search operations, search and rescue, joint tactical drills and the basics of special arms skills.
The joint exercise is divided into two successive phases: the first concentrates on tactical training and close combat while the second, validation, phase will see the two contingents undertaking a wide range of missions, from planning to search and rescue operations via the joint execution of counter-insurrectional combat tactics.
Following this exercise, the French regiment will have the honour of being the first foreign troops to march alongside Indian ones in the military parade on 26 January, Republic Day, which honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into force.
Raised 411 years ago, the 35th Infantry Regiment specialises in close combat. Based in Belfort, eastern France, the regiment is equipped with the VBCI eight-wheeled armoured vehicle made by Nexter Systems and the FELIN soldier combat system made by Sagem. It became entirely digitalised in 2006 making it one of the French army’s most modern regiments.