Why in News?
- India is facing an embarrassing situation at the first ever military exercise of the regional grouping BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation)- MILEX-18, with Nepal and Thailand backing out from sending full contingents.
- Nepal also conveyed that their Army Chief would not be able to attend the Chiefs’ conclave scheduled as part of the exercises.
- The first ever military exercise of the regional grouping BIMSTEC (MILEX-18), was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech at the fourth BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu.
- It is scheduled from September 10 to 16, 2018 at the Aundh Military Station in Pune.
- It is aimed at helping the BIMSTEC nations practise, planning and conduct of counter terrorist operations.
- Nepal, which had initially confirmed its participation with a full contingent, pulled out in the last minute and instead sent three observers.
- Apart from Nepal, Thailand, which was the last to confirm its participation in the exercise, conveyed that it could only send observers.
- Each participating country has sent its troops as well as a three-member team as observers.
- Though Nepal and Thailand are not participating in the exercise, both the countries sent observers for it.
- Also, all participating nations except Nepal have confirmed their Army Chiefs would attend the Chiefs’ conclave scheduled as part of the exercise
Reason cited by Nepal:
- Recently, a new chief of Nepal Army has taken charge and the reason was their new Chief has just taken charge and has a large number of commitments
- Interestingly, while Nepal has backed off from this exercise, it is scheduled to hold its second military exercise with China soon, which indicates Nepal’s increasing inclination towards China.
Reason cited by Thailand:
- MILEX being an unforeseen event, Thailand had budgeting constraints and so will send only observers.
- Also, Thai government had not had sufficient time for preparation.
- The theme of the exercise is counter-terrorism in semi-urban terrain.
- Its main aim is to promote strategic alignment among member-states and to share best practices in the area of counter-terrorism.
- The exercise will include training in operations like search-and-cordon operations, search and destroy and handling and neutralisation of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) among other things.
- Each participating member country will be represented by platoon sized contingents including around 30 soldiers (including five officers, 25 Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and personnel of other ranks).
- As part of this exercise, conclave of Army chiefs of all seven member-states is also being planned.
- In it, army chiefs will debate challenge of terrorism and transnational crime, which is major concern among all states and discuss ways to promote collective cooperation.