New Delhi: The Army declared on Saturday that its elite STRIKE 1 corps is conducting a “major” exercise in the Rajasthan desert to test capability to “strike deep in enemy territory in an integrated air-land battle environment”. The gruelling exercise, named Shatrujeet, involves around 30,000 troops deployed in the blistering Thar honing their war fighting kills and practicing modern military tactics. The exercises are held as routine by the Army but details of the intent are kept away from the public domain.
The army shared the objectives of the exercise in a statement on Saturday. The army said Shatrujeet “focuses on validating integrated theatre battle fighting concept incorporating new-age technologies, weapon platforms and systems as well as long range precision targeting vectors.”
The army said its formations had been preparing for the exercise for a month and were now ready for the validation of operational plans on ground in simulated high tempo battlefield environment and terrain. Army’s three strike corps carry out exercises to test deployments and operational capabilities. Bhopal-based 21 Corps, a strike force, had carried out exercise “Drad Sankalp” last year.
The exercise calendar in the test firing ranges of Rajasthan has been packed this year. Just when the Army moved in its troops in the area, the Indian Air Force tested its fire power in the exercise Iron Fist. It was the display of IAF’s capability to carry out operations in day, dusk and night.
Exercise Shatrujeet will also have air operations by IAF supporting ground troops. The proactive operations involve rapid deployments through swift mobilisation for an offensive behind enemy lines. The strategy has often been talked about across the border as India’s Cold Start doctrine aimed at reducing the time lag in launching an offensive substantially and delivering a surprise blow. Elements of other corps would also take part in the exercise.
Pakistan has claimed that it has developed minimum credible deterrence to unsettle India’s Cold Start plans by developing tactical nuclear weapons. These miniaturised nuclear weapons are meant to be used in a highly localised scenario.
India has underlined tactical nuclear weapons would not come in the way of New Delhi’s response under the no first use policy. The message of India is clear that even use of tactical weapons will invite catastrophic response.
Though messages are sent across the border ahead of such military drills, the rigorous war gaming is being held when relations between India and Pakistan are facing testing times.