Joint military drill to hone anti-terror capacity

Updated: 2014-08-19 06:50

By Wang Xu in Zhurihe, Inner Mongolia(China Daily)

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The arrival of a Tupelov Tu-134 aircraft with 39 officers from Kazakhstan on Sunday brought to more than 7,000 the number of troops from five Shanghai Cooperation Organization nations participating in Peace Mission-2014.

By Monday, all foreign personnel taking part in the joint anti-terrorist military exercise in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region had arrived, according to Wang Ning, the drill's chief director.

The exercise, which will run at Zhurihe from Aug 24 to 29, involves 2,200 foreign personnel including infantry, aviation, airborne troops and special forces. Weaponry includes fighters, transports, helicopters and tanks from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

This is the first time that China has acted as the chief director of a joint military exercise.

Peace Mission-2014 is the fifth such drill to be staged under the SCO framework, and also the largest, Wang said.

The SCO, which includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, was founded in Shanghai in 2001, with Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers and Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka as dialogue partners.

The drill is expected to hone anti-terrorism capabilities, Wang said. There will be three phases - troop deployment, battle planning and simulated combat.

The scenario involves an extremist or separatist group from abroad that has incited people to join a terrorist insurgency in a SCO nation. The nation asks the SCO for assistance and joint forces are sent there to suppress the insurgency, with the United Nations' consent, Wang said.

China has joined Russia in anti-terrorism drills before, but this one involves more advanced weaponry, he added.

Moscow has sent 900 troops. Russia's Interfax-AVN military news agency quoted Col. Alexander Gordeev of the Eastern Military Region as saying the Russian contingent will include Mi-8 helicopters, Grad mobile rocket batteries, mine units and four Su-25 fighter jets.

Xinhua News Agency said on Monday that eight transport helicopters landed on Sunday night at Zhurihe, the country's largest and most modern training base.

The night setting created landing difficulties for Russian pilots at the base, where surface lights are dim, said Su Yingshan of the 38th group army of the People's Liberation Army.

"The smooth landings demonstrated the Russian pilots' outstanding flying skills," he said.

A participant from Russia who declined to be named said the drill is very important for global cooperation. He hopes China, Russia and the other countries in the SCO can work together to sharpen their anti-terrorism capabilities.