New Delhi: The Mathura-based 1 Corps, one of the Indian Army's three strike Corps, is all set to roll out the most high-tech war games ever conducted by the Indian Army, through an exercise codenamed 'Ashwamedh.' For the first time ever, the Army will be exercising in an intensive electronic environment that will test out its 'network centric' doctrines and equipment.
Satellites and UAVs (unarmed aerial vehicles) will be brought directly into play for the first time, influencing the decisions of army commanders and the course of the battle. The experience will allow the army to transit into another era of battlefield conduct.
Starting April 29, 25,000 soldiers, as well as mechanised and armoured units, along with supporting air elements from the Indian Air Force as well as the Army's aviation corps will fan out in a 130-km corridor across the arid and semi-arid regions of Rajasthan and the southern part of Punjab.
'A combination of imagery from a satellite and from UAVs will give the battlefield commanders real time information about the movement of the troops and enable them re-deploy their forces in an evolving scenario,' army sources said Friday.
Exercise 'Ashwamedh' will be conducted over an 80-mile long and 40-mile wide front, from Suratgarh in Rajasthan to Bhatinda in the Punjab. The exercise is also designed 'to practise operational synergy within the army as well as with the air force,' the officer added.
'The exercise will enable the integration of surveillance systems like satellite imagery, UAVs, battlefield radars and night vision devices with the weapons systems of the army and the air force,' he said.
'The aim is to integrate the various fighting elements so that combat power is optimised,' he added.
The exercise will see the deployment of a wide array of armour, mechanised infantry, infantry, and medium and field artillery operating in tandem with fighters, transport aircraft and helicopters of the air force.
In preparation for the exercise, troops have already been practising tactical level operations at the battalion and brigade level for the past 30 days. The initial training will now be culminate in a combined exercise from April 29-May 3.
Troops of 1 Corps have been split into the Red Force representing the enemy and the Blue Force representing the defenders. 'At the end of the exercise, we will be able to gauge whether the Red Force had a valid attack plan and whether the Blue Force had an equally valid plan to counter the threat,' army officers said.
'The exercise will validate the operational plans of 1 Corps for planning and conducting offensive operations in a desert and semi-desert environment,' they said.
'It will also validate operational and logistics concepts at the level of an integrated theatre of operations,' the officer added.
Both Red and Blue Force commanders have drawn up their operational plans and these will be monitored by Lt Gen PK Singh, who heads the newly created South Western Command under whose aegis 'Ashwamedh' is currently being staged.
The army's Special Forces, besides air force fighters and attack helicopters as well as the army's attack helicopters will undertake a number of missions during the exercise.
'This will enable us to gauge the effectiveness of airborne operations to engage the enemy across an entire front. It will also validate our concept of utilising air power at the decisive point of battle,' the officer stated.
Indian Army chief Gen JJ Singh will also witness the exercise.
'Ashwamedh' is part of a series of biennial exercises that involves different strike corps of the army.