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Indian Army to hold mega exercise with African countries in March

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Army will hold a mega multilateral exercise with militaries of around 40 African countries in March with an aim to significantly expand two-way military engagement, officials have said.

The Army is planning to hold a conclave of chiefs of armies of the participating nations on the sidelines of the military drills in Pune.

At a press conference  on Thursday, ahead of Army Day on January 15, Chief of Army Staff Gen Manoj Pande mentioned about the upcoming exercise.

"We are holding an exercise with African countries in March," he said.

Another official said around 40 countries are participating in the mega exercise that will witness major military drills.

In the last few years, India has been focusing on ramping up overall defence and strategic ties with the African continent amid China's growing attempts to expand its influence over the countries.

To a separate question, Gen Pande said about 45 per cent of the Indian Army's equipment falls under the vintage category while 41 per cent comes under current technology.

He said some 12 to 15 per cent are state-of-the-art.

"By 2030, because of our modernisation plan, we will reach a figure of 35 per cent current technology and 44 per cent state of the art," he said.

Listing new initiatives, Gen Pande said the Indian Army has launched standardised mixed martial arts (MMA) programme for its soldiers.

When asked if there was any impact on military movement because of cracks developed in Uttarakhand's Joshimath, he said some troops were relocated but asserted that there was no impact on operational matters.

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