Live-fire exercise strengthens military bonds between India, Singapore

Live-fire exercise strengthens military bonds between India, Singapore

Tom Abke

The armies of India and Singapore sharpened their operational skills in a live-fire exercise at Babina Firing Range in India’s Uttar Pradesh province in April 2019. It was the 12th iteration of the Bold Kurukshetra exercise since 2005 but the first since 2017.

The exercise, pictured, involved 270 Soldiers, along with main battle tanks (MBTs) and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), in integrated maneuvers, exercise planning and training.

“The training here has allowed our armor units to hone their operational skills and competencies in a realistic live-firing environment,” said Senior Lt. Col. Dean Yik, commander of Singapore’s 8th Armored Brigade. “More importantly, the opportunity to work together with the Indian Army in professional exchanges and joint training has enhanced our mutual understanding and cooperation.”

India’s Arjun MBTs took part in the integrated live-firing along with the Singapore Army’s Bionix IFVs, according to Singapore’s Ministry of Defence.

The Arjun, named for the great warrior of Indian mythology, is a third-generation MBT developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation. The Arjun features a 120-mm main rifled gun. Singapore’s Bionix II IFV was developed by Singapore Technologies Kinetics Ltd. and is typically equipped with a 30-mm cannon.

Observing the exercise were Indian Army Brig. Gen. Tejvir Singh Mundi, deputy general officer commanding 31 Armored Division, and Singaporean Army Brig. Gen. Ng Ying Thong, commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command. They also interacted with the troops from each other’s army.

“The four-day-long joint training focused on developing interoperability and conduct of joint tactical operations in mechanized warfare,” said Indian Army spokesman Lt. Col. Mohit Vaishnava. “The troops learned about each other’s organizations and best practices being followed in combat.”

Vaishnava referred to the exercise as “a grand success.”

Bold Kurukshetra falls within the scope of the bilateral agreement for joint army training and exercises between the Singapore Army and Indian Army.

The agreement was renewed in November 2018 during the 3rd Defence Ministers’ Dialogue between Indian Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman and Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Singapore’s minister of defence. It enables Singapore Army’s artillery and armor to train in India, thereby allowing resumption of regular interactions between both armies on Indian soil.

The countries signed a broader defense cooperation agreement in 2015.

Exercise Bold Kurukshetra “underscores the strong and long-standing bilateral defense relationship between both countries,” Ng’s ministry emphasized in a statement, “and enhances cooperation between the two armies. Both defense establishments also interact regularly through high-level visits, policy dialogues, courses and other professional exchanges.”

Tom Abke is a FORUM contributor reporting from Singapore.