In view of China’s growing influence in the neighbouring island nation Sri Lanka, Indian Army Chief Gen MM Naravane has reached the island nation on a five day visit. Gen Naravane’s visit to neighbouring Sri Lanka follows the recently concluded visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla’s visit to that country. The visit assumes importance as India has been raising concerns over China’s presence in that country as well as in the Indian Ocean Region which is posing threat to New Delhi’s interests, Financial Express reported.
Agenda during the five day visit
The Army Chief who is on his maiden visit to that country was received by the Sri Lankan Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva.
During his visit, the Indian Army Chief will have discussions with the top military leadership of that country and explore ways for further deepening military ties. His meetings are scheduled to take place with the Service Chiefs, visit the Headquarters of the Sri Lankan Army, the Gajaba Regimental Headquarters and the Sri Lankan Military Academy.
While there, the Indian Army chief will witness the ongoing military drill Mitra Shakti. The drill will be ending on October 15, 2021.
India & Sri Lanka Military Cooperation
The military cooperation between the two countries include – joint training and exercises, regular high level visits, ship visits and sports interactions and around 50 per cent of all foreign military training slots in India are allocated to Sri Lankan defence personnel.
In August 2021, a report titled “Integrated Country strategy, for the Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions in India for 2021-23” by the High Commission of Sri Lanka, states “expansion of collaboration in the fields of strategic cooperation, defence and Indian Ocean security between the two countries has been identified.”
The report has suggested the focus will be on working toward the development of mechanisms that enhance political level strategic cooperation in the fields of security and defence.
Facilitating bilateral joint military exercises, increased high-level military exchanges as well as study tours.
The Government of Sri Lanka has plans to appoint a Defence Advisor in the mission in New Delhi.
India & Sri Lanka Mitra Shakti
120 personnel of the Indian Army are in Sri Lanka participating in the 8th edition of India-Sri Lanka bilateral joint Exercise.
Ex-Mitra Shakti is being conducted in Ampara at Combat Training School, Sri Lanka from Oct 4-15, 2021.
Aim of Ex Mitra Shakti
Indian army’s all arms contingent and a battalion of Sri Lanka is in the joint drill focusing on inter-operability, sharing best practices in counter terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.
An all arms contingent of 120 personnel of the Indian Army will participate in the exercise along with a battalion of the Sri Lankan Army. The aim is to promote close relations between the armies of the two sides and enhance inter-operability and sharing best practices in counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations.
It involves tactical level operations at sub unit level in an international Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism environment, as this will help in bringing synergy and cooperation at grass root level between the armies of India and Sri Lanka.