Joint counterterrorism training and exercises among military forces from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its dialogue countries can improve the countries' joint command and operation mechanism when responding together to regional terrorist threats, military officers said on Wednesday as related field training exercises began.
The exercises, under the framework of the Experts' Working Group of counterterrorism of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus, kicked off in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Wednesday.
More than 800 officers and soldiers from 18 countries, as well as the ASEAN Center of Military Medicine, will participate in counterterrorism exercises together.
"The exercises have been the largest land counterterrorism activities in terms of scale since the founding of the EWG of counterterrorism in 2011," Lieutenant General Zhang Jian, commander of the People's Liberation Army Ground Force Southern Theater, said during the opening ceremony. "It aims to facilitate exchanges and cooperation among the ASEAN member states and dialogue countries to enhance their capability to respond to the regional terrorist threats."
ADMM-Plus is a platform for 10 members of ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners, including China and the United States, to strengthen security and defense cooperation. It has established five EWGs to facilitate cooperation in maritime security, counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster management, peacekeeping operations and military medicine.
Military officers and soldiers can learn from each other and build friendships and trust, said Major General Thanongsak Tannarat of the Royal Thai Armed Forces. More importantly, the exercises will enhance multinational anti-terrorism cooperation to better protect the region.
The exercises focus on counterterrorism missions in urban environments, Zhang said.
"It's an in-depth exploration for counterterrorism operations, he said."
The exercises will effectively improve the countries' competence in joint counterterrorism missions, said Major General Wang Suocheng, commander of the task force of the joint exercises.
"Some task teams consist of soldiers from multiple countries so they can tackle the most challenging problem in counterterrorism missions together," he said.
"The teams will complete operations including special and airborne assaults."
With so many countries involved, Mulla Abidali, a soldier from the Indian Army who will join a multinational assault team, acknowledged that there are language barriers but is confident that participants will be able to perform.
"Although we speak different languages, we can easily give and receive commands with tactical hand signals," Abidali said.
It's important for military troops to work together to fight terrorism, which has become an increasing threat in many places, including India, he said.
The field training exercises will conclude on Nov 22.