Report: Indian, Israeli Elite Units to Hold Joint Military Drill
Israel and India will take their strategic alliance to the next level with a joint military exercise in the near future, Indian English-language newspaper The Pioneer reported last week.
The drill is being organized through a joint working group including officials from the Defense and Foreign ministries and armies of both countries, according to the report, which did not give a date for the scheduled exercise. According to unnamed “sources,” the exercises will involve elite Indian and Israeli special forces.
Though Israel is the third largest weapons-supplier to India, according to the report, the two countries have yet to publicly hold joint military exercises in large part due to domestic Indian political opposition to closer ties with Israel.
The Pioneer report actually came just before a visit by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to Israel, the first by an Indian president. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar are expected to make groundbreaking visits possibly in 2016, as well. Also, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited India along with an entourage of defense officials earlier this year, underscoring the tightening defense ties between the countries.
Though the countries’ full diplomatic relationship only dates back to 1992, the two nations have grown to enjoy strong economic, political and strategic relations, and the current Israeli and Indian premiers, Benjamin Netanyahu and Modi, have boasted a warm relationship.
Israel for its part has provided technical know-how and logistics to India in policing its restive western border with Pakistan, which has seen several incursions and terrorist attacks over the years. For example, an Israeli-trained Indian SWAT team was crucial in ending a terrorist siege at a police station in the western Punjab state earlier this year, according to Indian reports.
Additionally, the Pioneer reported that Israel’s Mossad and Indian agencies regularly exchange intelligence to combat terrorist threats facing both nations; terrorist attacks in Mumbai and Delhi have targeted Jews, Israelis and Israeli officials before, such as the attempted sticky car bombing of Israeli diplomatic officials in the Indian capital in 2012.