Indian Army’s South Western Command for the first time tested its combat capability after being operationalised as the new Army Command in 2005. The testing was done as an exercise in the desert areas of Bikaner in Rajasthan under the name of Ex Ashwamedh from April 24 to May 4.
Ex Ashwamedh was the biggest exercise in recent years and involved the employment of 1 Corps which is one of the strategic Strike Corps of the Army. The exercise aimed at validating integration of high technology equipment in network-centric warfare and joint operations scenario with the Air Force optimizing the Joint Service Doctrine and encompassing the advancement made as part of Revolution in Military Affairs. The all important nuclear backdrop was catered for at the strategic level.
The Strike Corps practiced swift maneuvers with the simultaneous employment of Special Forces, Airborne and Heliborne troops behind the ‘enemy’ lines. The Air Force contributed by applying air power using the latest fighter bombers using smart and standoff weaponry, attack helicopters and transport aircraft.
The Chief of the Army Staff, Gen JJ Singh witnessed the exercise. The Army Chief laid down the priorities for the Army which includes operational readiness, high state of training, and top class leadership with operationally structured forces and responsive logistics.
Ex Ashwamedh was conducted as a two-sided exercise. For the first time, such large forces were integrated in an information and network centric environment involving satellites, UAVs, high technology surveillance devices, night vision devices and the concentration of massed Artillery fire employed in concert with its own air power. Numerous armoured regiments, mechanised infantry battalions and artillery regiments participated. The Air Force fielded over twenty sorties of specialised aircraft and attack helicopters both by day and night in every 24 hour cycle. The exercise was conducted under the direct supervision of Lt Gen PK Singh, GOC-in-C, South Western Command.
-Col SK Sakhuja