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Army Chief in France as Modi and Macron prepare to meet in Bali

COAS General Manoj Pande with General Stephane Mille, Chief of Staff of the French Air and Space Force in New Delhi, earlier this month (Image courtesy: ADGPI)

Army Chief General Manoj Pande began his four-day visit to France on Monday as both countries look at adding depth and strength to their strategic partnership.

The Chief of the Army Staff (CoAS) arrived in France at a significant juncture as the Indian Air Force and the French Air and Space Force (AAE) were wrapping up a major two-week advanced bilateral exercise in Jodhpur and Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Bali where he is expected to hold discussions with the French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the G20 Summit.

His visit also reflects India’s position as a major strategic partner for France in the Indo-Pacific region.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, AAE Chief of Staff General Stephane Mille was in New Delhi last week at a time when Indian and French pilots, flying Rafale and Tejas fighter jets, were involved in an intense second phase of the ‘Garuda 22’ exercise.

The AAE had deployed a contingent of 220 personnel, five Rafales and state-of-the-art Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Phenix for the bilateral exercise this time as the edition focused on ‘Large Force Employment’ with a predominance of fighter aviation.

The IAF, on the other hand, participated with Su-30 MKI, Rafale, LCA Tejas and Jaguar fighter aircraft, as well as the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Mi-17 helicopters. The IAF contingent also included Combat Enabling Assets like Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS and Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system.

During his visit to Delhi, Mille met not only General Pande and Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari but also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan and the top Indian Navy leadership.

Now the Indian Army chief will be meeting his counterparts and senior military leadership of France with an aim to enhance defence cooperation between both nations.

The Army Chief will be laying wreath at Neuve Chapelle Indian Memorial, which commemorates the sacrifices of 4,742 Indian soldiers during the First World War. He is scheduled to call on the Chief of the Defence Staff, Chief of the Army Staff, and Commander Commandement des Forces Terrestres (CFT)/Command of the Land Combat Forces, where he will discuss avenues for enhancing India-France defence relations.

The COAS will also be visiting Ecole Militarie, comprising of various military training establishments in Paris and address Senior Staff Officers attending a course at Ecole de Guerra-T. He will also be visiting Military Schools at Draguignan, which are premier training establishments that train commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers.

“The ever-expanding defence cooperation engagements which encompass a broad spectrum of activities have established a strong bonhomie across every level of the two Armies. The visit of the COAS to France will further strengthen the bonds of trust and understanding between the two armies,” said the Ministry of Defence in a statement.

Also Read: Flying Rafales, Tejas and Su-30, Indian and French pilots step up war games in Rajasthan