S Padmanabhan, Chief of the Army Staff met the members of the Indian team
which was declared the overall winner in exercise Airborne Africa held
recently in Botswana. The team bagged first position in endurance,
navigation and casualty evacuation.
Exercise Airborne Africa was
hosted by Botswana in June this year. Initiated by the South African
National Defence exercise Forces (SANDF) last year, the exereise is an
endurance and tactical competition among airborne units of African armies
and invited overseas countries. The purpose of the exercise is to foster
goodwill among airborne units of participating nations and promotion of
tourism in Botswana.
Army teams from 12 countries including Botswana, France, India, Malawi,
Malaysia, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, UK, USA and Zimbabwe
participated in the competition. Botswana, India and defending champions
South Africa fielded eight, two and four teams respectively. The exercise
was held in the North Western part of Botswana in the general area of
Okavango Delta, renowned as the only inland river delta in the world. The
terrain with its thick vegetation and heavy sandy soil posed a challenge
to the participants.
Gen L M Fisher, Commander, Botswana
Defence Force (BDF) had extended an invitation for participation to India
during his recent visit. Accordingly, two teams consisting of four
officers and eight other ranks were fielded by the Indian Parachute
Regiment (Special Forces) under Maj Animish Ranade and Capt Krishnadas TR.
The competition commenced with para-drop. The gruelling competition held
over three days required the teams to traverse 65 kms braving the
scorching sun with full combat loads. This included a 35-km endurance
march, a 10-km navigation exercise, casualty evacuation of 10 kilometres,
a 10-km speed march and a combat shooting of rifle-pistol.
The BDF team stood in the second
position followed by the SANDF team. Observers identified individual
stamina, grit, elan, shooting standards and teamwork as the hallmarks of
the Indian teams.
Vice President, Lt Gen (Retd) Ian
Khama Sereste Khama presided over the closing ceremony and gave away the
trophy to the overall winners and presented medals to participants before
they left Botswana.
- PIB (DW)