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President Patil wears battle fatigues, travels in MBT to witness exercise "Sudarshan Shakti"

December 5, 2011 - Somewhere in the Rajasthan Desert

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Monday became the first Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to wear battle fatigues and travel in a main battle tank (T-90) to witness the mega army exercise "Sudarshan Shakti" in Rajasthan.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony and the Chief of Army Staff, General V.K. Singh, were also present at the event.

President Patil and her predecessor A.P.J. Abdul Kalam are the only two Supreme Commanders to fly in the fighter aircraft Sukhoi in the recent past.

Over 50,000 troops and about 500 main battle tanks (MBTs) like T-90s, T-72s and the indigenous Arjun, as also infantry combat vehicles, participated in the exercise, which also featured fighter jets, transport and helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The exercise conducted by the Pune-based Southern Command and is being led by formations under Bhopal-based 21 Corps, an offensive Corps of the Indian Army, also known as Sudarshan Chakra Corps.

Troops of the 31-Armoured Division and a battalion of the Assam Regiment also participated in the exercise.

It also involves the operation of aircraft such as SU-30 MKI, Jaguars, MiG-27, MiG-21 AWACS and helicopters

The exercise is being held to help validate the Southern Command's war-fighting concepts while working towards a 'capability-based approach' relying on a series of transformational initiatives, concepts, organizational structures and absorption of new age technologies.

Last week, Lt Gen A K Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Southern Command, told media that the desert exercise Sudarshan Shakti would see the full operational preparedness of the Southern Command.

Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Sanjiv Langer also interacted with the media through a video conference, throwing light on the aim and nuances of the exercise.

The exercise, which was performed in front of the dignitaries, is normally performed at night. By Amit Shankar


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