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Mega military exercise of ASEAN plus countries begins

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Indian Army soldiers. A file photo

PUNE (PTI): A week-long multinational Field Training Exercise, involving military personnel from ASEAN plus countries, has commenced in Pune on Wednesday.

Christened "Exercise Force 18", the largest ground forces operation ever conducted on Indian soil, being held from March 2 to 8 at Aundh Military Station, will focus on the theme "Peacekeeping operations and humanitarian mine action", a defence release said.

Playing of national anthems of participating nations and a fly past marked the grand opening ceremony in the presence of 80 foreign dignitaries from various countries.

Speaking on the occasion, Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Army Commander of the city-based Southern Command, said "Exercise 18" would build common understanding and achieve inter-operability among 18 ASEAN plus countries.

A 40-member Indian Army contingent at the ceremony was led by a woman officer, Lt Col Sophia Qureshi.

Ten countries from South East Asia Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are members of the ASEAN.

India and some other countries form part of the ASEAN plus.

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