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Army Chief visiting Uzbekistan to strengthen bilateral defence ties

The visit will culminate on April 18 in Termez where the COAS is scheduled to witness the Joint Exercise DUSTLIK between the armed forces of India and Uzbekistan

army chiefNEW DELHI: Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande on Monday departed on a visit to Uzbekistan marking a significant step in bolstering defence cooperation between the two countries. The official visit from April 15-18 includes high-level meetings with the top civilian and military leadership.

The Indian Army in a statement said, “On 15th April 2024, General Manoj Pande will engage in dialogues with the top defence leadership of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The meetings are planned with Lieutenant General Bakhodir Kurbanov, the Defence Minister of Uzbekistan; Major General Khalmukhamedov Shukhrat Gayratjanovich, the First Deputy Minister of Defence and Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces; and Major General Burkhanov Ahmed Jamalovich, the Deputy Minister and Chief of Air and Air Defence Forces.”

These dialogues are pivotal in fostering stronger military cooperation, the Army said.

As per the schedule, General Pande on April 16 will pay homage to Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second Prime Minister of India, by laying a wreath at his monument. Among the engagements on the day will encompass a visit to the Centre for Innovative Technologies LLC, where the COAS will get an insight into initiatives being undertaken by the Republic of Uzbekistan in defence technology and innovations. General Manoj Pande will thereafter visit the Uzbekistan Armed Forces Academy and inaugurate an IT lab at the academy, established with India’s assistance.

He will be travelling to Samarkand on April 17 to meet the Commander of the Central Military District. The visit will culminate on April 18 in Termez where the COAS is scheduled to witness the Joint Exercise DUSTLIK between the armed forces of India and Uzbekistan, highlighting the interoperability and camaraderie developed between the two countries. He will also visit the Termez Museum and the historical monuments of the Surkhandarya Region to get a first-hand account of Uzbekistan’s glorious past and cultural landscapes.

Exercise DUSTLIK is a yearly event conducted alternatively in India and Uzbekistan. While the inaugural edition of exercise was held in November 2019, the last edition was conducted at Pithoragarh (India) in February 2023.

The Indian Armed Forces contingent comprising 60 personnel is being represented by 45 personnel from the Indian Army, mostly from a battalion of the Jat Regiment and 15 personnel from the Indian Air Force. The Uzbekistan contingent comprising approximately 100 personnel, from the Uzbekistan Army and Air Force.

The aim of Exercise DUSTLIK is to foster military cooperation and enhance combined capabilities to execute joint operations in mountainous as well as semi urban terrain.

The complexity of this edition of Exercise DUSTLIK has been enhanced with conduct of multi domain operations as the contingent comprises personnel from combat support arms and services besides infantry. Two women officers also form part of the IA contingent, including one from the Regiment of Artillery and another from the Army Medical Corps.

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