In a first, India will host a part of an international military sports event in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer over nine days in August, in a bid to promote bonhomie among the participating countries, Army officials said on Tuesday.
International Army Games, organised by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, have been taking place since 2015 and sees participation of close to 32 countries.
In 2019, it is proposed that the International Army Games will have 32 disciplines to be hosted by 10 countries -- Russia, India, China, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Iran, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, they said.
India will host the fifth Army International Scout Masters Competition as part of the games, an official said.
The India leg of the event is being held at the culturally rich golden city of Jaisalmer, nestled in the Thar desert.
"A total of eight countries -- Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, Armenia, Belarus, China and India -- will participate in this leg. The competition is being held in India for the first time under the aegis of the Indian Army and being organised by the Konark Corps at Jaisalmer military station," the official said.
The Army Scout Masters Competition will be conducted from August 6 to August 14, he said.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said it is indeed a matter of "great esteem and pride" for India to host the global competition for the first time.
"I also take this opportunity to thank the International Organising Committee for selecting India to host the games, the last one (fourth edition) being held at Novosibirsk, Russia in 2018. The International Army Games provides a competitive platform for participants of the respective countries to test their skills, develop bonhomie and camaraderie," she said in her message.
"With the ever-evolving dynamic security situation, it is imperative for all of us to work together and inter-operate with each other. As India emerges as a regional power, it contributes to the regional security environment in particular and the world in general," she said.
It has been India's endeavour to forge strong ties with friendly foreign countries and promote peaceful co-existence, tranquility and development. Army Scout Masters Competition gives that opportunity and a medium to learn from each other, co-operate and carry back best practices, she added.
The Army Games have been a platform for participating nations to interact and promote bonhomie.
Officials said the aim of the competition is to enhance international military-to-military cooperation, assist each other in proliferation of best practices, develop competitive spirit amongst scouts participating and display combat capabilities and characteristics of modern weapons and equipment.
Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, in his message, said strengthening of defence cooperation with friendly nations remains an important objective and component of the Indian Armed Forces.
With the need to build capability to operate alongside partner nations for meeting evolving global challenges, the Indian Army has undertaken defence cooperation initiatives to develop friendly relations and to strengthen engagement, based on a spirit of building mutual trust, he said.
The Indian Army is proud to host the Fifth Army Scout Masters Competition as part of International Army Games 2019, Gen Rawat said.
"The championship will offer unique challenges and opportunities. The competition is designed to promote co-operation, collaboration and team spirit among the contestants and facilitate sharing of best practices, technology and hardware," Rawat said.
Army officials said, the role of an army scout is to operate as one of the lead personnel in an operational area to gather information of the enemy by vehicle mounted or dismounted reconnaissance patrols.
"Army Scouts track as well as report movement behind enemy lines, assist in disruption of enemy mechanised move by using anti-armour weapons, laying ambushes deep inside enemy territory and direct employment of various weapon systems," an official said.
Their specialised skills enable them to assist with observation and listening posts, perform and help with navigation and help securing launch pads. They are trained to carry out silent battle reconnaissance after establishing contact and reconnaissance of crossing places over obstacles.
Scouts are professionally trained to find out the strength and dispositions of an enemy, gaps in enemy defences and its likely reactions. They are also referred to as the 'eyes and ears' of the army, they said.