Armies overcome language barriers to conduct Force 18 exercise

The field training phase of Exercise 'FORCE 18', the largest 'Multinational Field Training Exercise (FTX)’, hosted by the Indian Army, ended in Pune on Monday.

Over 80 observers, including 28 Foreign Services Attaches of participating and non-participating countries, were shown and briefed on the exercise and they witnessed the validation phase today in Pune.

The theme of the exercise is Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) and Peacekeeping Operations (PKO). The maiden multinational exercise ever conducted by ground forces on Indian soil witnessed the presence of 18 ASEAN Plus nations including China, USA, Russia, Japan, South Korea.

Despite being from so many nations, language wasn't a barrier today. Asked about the issue of communicating with officers from different regions, an Indian Army officer said, “Yes. There was a language issue, but to overcome it each country had got interpreters and translaters which helped us communicate with them. Prior to starting the exercise, we used to give demo of the activities to the interpreters. Apart from this we also used visuals to explain the training activity.”

The observers were taken to College of Military Engineering for witnessing the Humanitarian Mine Action Exercise in the initial part of the day.

They were briefed by the FTX Planners about the background of exercise and the activities undertaken till date.

The observers later visited the Mine Action Centre where they witnessed the mine action teams being effectively controlled from a single command post.

The observers were also taken to Aundh for witnessing the Peacekeeping Operations Exercise which include military drills such as patrolling, convoy protection and deployment of Standard Combat Deployment, a statement by the Army said.

This was followed by debriefing, wherein contingent heads of all ASEAN Plus countries brought out the lessons learnt, experiences shared, expertise gained and the way ahead.

Lt Col Sophia Qureshi, a young woman officer of the Indian Army, is leading the country's contingent at Force 18.

Ten members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN,) plus eight observer states - India, Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, United States, Australia and New Zealand - had participated.

Addressing the press, Senior Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan from Vietnam (equivalent to Indian Army Chief) said on Monday, “In the last four decades, Vietnam is still facing issues of landmines and we are thankful to Indian Army and India for making us a part of this exercise and training us. These methodologies that we learned in FTX will be helpful to us and our country.”

Similar views were shared by Lieutenant General Wacharikul from Thailand. He said, “Landmines are a major challenge for all of us and we have learnt the art of disarming them during the FTX. This will help us detect as well as untag such landmines.”

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