Largest ever ground force joint exercise kicks off

Pune, March 2 (IANS) Multinational Field Training Exercise Force 18, involving ASEAN-Plus countries, kicked off here on Wednesday, an official statement said.

This is the largest ground forces exercise ever conducted on Indian soil, set to end on March 8.

In another first, the Indian Army contingent of 40 soldiers is being led by Lt. Col. Sophia Qureshi, an officer from the Corps of Signals.

Lt. Col. Qureshi is now the first woman officer to lead an Indian Army training contingent in such a large multinational exercise.

The officer also happens to be the only Woman Officer Contingent Commander amongst all other ASEAN-Plus contingents present for the exercise.

The exercise has humanitarian mine action and peacekeeping operations as its theme.

A grand opening ceremony was held at Aundh Military Station which was presided over by Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat, Commander of Pune based Southern Army Command.

The ceremony began with marching in of the various participating contingents from the ASEAN-Plus nations.

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