3 days of IPACC, IPAMS & SELF-2023 organised by India

Sep 28: A three-day event, IPACC, IPAMS and SELF-2023, organised by the Indian Army with the US Army as the co-host culminated today in New Delhi. The event witnessed participation from 30 countries. 18 countries were represented by Chiefs of their respective Armies and 12 countries were represented by Heads of Delegations. The event provided an opportunity for the delegates to exchange ideas and views on security and other contemporary issues of mutual interest, with core efforts directed at promoting ‘Peace and Stability’ in the Indo-Pacific region.

The event commenced with a call-on by General Randy George, the Chief of Staff (COS) of the US Army to General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Indian Army on 25 September 2023. Both Chiefs discussed issues of mutual interest and shared views on contemporary issues.

On the 26th of September 2023, the Chiefs and the Heads of Delegations laid a wreath at the National War Memorial paying homage to our fallen heroes.  This was followed by a Joint Press Brief by the COAS Indian Army and COS of the US Army. The COAS Indian Army remarked that the region is not only a cauldron of cultures, histories, resources and opportunities but also a theatre of complexities and challenges. The COS of the US Army highlighted the role of land power and said that it not only contributes to the shared security of the region but land power is also the decisive force in dealing with crises.

The Joint Press Brief was followed by the Opening Ceremony graced by the presence of Hon’ble Raksha Mantri, and Shri Rajnath Singh. General Anil Chauhan, Chief of the Defence Staff was in attendance. During the ceremony, IPACC and IPAMS flags were trooped in followed by National Anthems of the USA and India. COAS Indian Army and COS of the US Army welcomed all participants.

Hon’ble Raksha Mantri delivered the Inaugural Address in which he emphasised the complexities and untapped potential of the Indo-Pacific region and said that the region demands concerted efforts for a prosperous, secure and inclusive future. He also said that “India stands for a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific”. He reiterated, “Our efforts to build robust military partnerships with friendly countries underscore our commitment to safeguard national interests and address global challenges.” Hon’ble Raksha Mantri also released a Commemorative Journal.

As part of the 13th IPACC, a Chief’s Round Table Conference was held on the theme “Together for Peace: Sustaining Peace and Stability in the Indo-Pacific Region”. Lieutenant General Raj Shukla (Retired) moderated the Round Table Conference. Lieutenant General Xavier T. Brunson, from the US Army, delivered a talk on “Enhancing Collaboration and Interoperability”.  Major General Tan Cheng Kwee from Singapore talked about the “Role of Military Diplomacy in Mitigating Crises”. Lieutenant General Subrata Saha (Retired) spoke on the topic, “Imperatives of Self Reliance for Modern Armies”. All Chiefs echoed the theme and reflected the sentiments of all the nations in the area. The Chiefs and Heads of Delegations had free and frank discussions on the need for an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region that follows a rules-based world order. They highlighted that Indo-Pacific has diversity at many levels and all agreed to work towards a collaborative effort to address the challenges faced in the region.

The COAS Indian Army also held bilateral meetings with Chiefs of the armies of the participating countries. He held one-to-one discussions with General Morishita Yasunori (Japan), Lieutenant General Simon Stuart (Australia), Lieutenant General Nguyen Doan Anh (Vietnam), Lieutenant General Peter Mbogo Njiru (Kenya), Prasiddha Prabal Janesewashree General Prabhu Ram Sharma (Nepal), General Sheikh Md Shafiuddin Ahmed (Bangladesh), Major General John Boswell (New Zealand), General Sir Patrick Sanders (UK), Lieutenant General Mao Sophan (Cambodia), General Jung Hwan Park, Republic of Korea, General Pierre Schill (France) and General Datuk Muhammad Hafizuddeain Bin Jantan (Malaysia).  Lieutenant General MV Suchindra Kumar, Vice Chief of the Army Staff also held bilateral meetings with the heads of delegations of Brazil, Singapore, Mongolia and Thailand.

Sessions of the 47 IPAMS were conducted in the Plenary Sessions on three themes. The first theme was “Partnering for Sustainable Peace and Security in the Indo-Pacific”. The second theme was “Cooperation to Enhance Interoperability” and the final theme was “Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR)- Evolving Mechanisms for Crises Response”. Senior officers from Mongolia, Nepal, Japan, Australia, Philippines, Tonga, USA and India spoke on the topics and shared their views with all participants. The discussions were moderated by Lieutenant General PS Rajeshwar (Retired), Lieutenant General Sunil Srivastava (Retired) and Lieutenant General Arun Kumar Sahni (Retired). It emerged during the discussions that the nations need to work together to strengthen the collective responses.  This collaborative effort is not built overnight and therefore IPAMS provided the platform to build a connection, confidence and commitment for the future.

9th SELF was conducted in three sessions on the themes, “Interoperability Amongst Indo-Pacific Armies”, “Grooming Junior Leaders for Modern Battlefield” and “Beyond the Barracks- Addressing Senior Enlisted Leaders’ Concerns”. It was a unique forum where junior leaders at the functional level exchanged their views and ideas.

A Special Plenary for the spouses was also conducted on the theme “Beyond the Barracks: Roles and Challenges in Fostering Military Communities and Sharing Best Practices”. The session commenced with the Opening Address by Mrs. Archana Pande, President, of the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) and Mrs Patty George, spouse of the COS of the US Army. The spouses also visited the National War Memorial and paid their tributes. An AWWA Exhibition was also showcased to the participants highlighting the entrepreneurial success of spouses of Indian Military personnel. This was followed by a tour to ‘AAHWAN’, which highlighted various initiatives undertaken by the AWWA towards women empowerment.

‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ Equipment Display during the event showcased the capability of Indian Industry to produce world-class military equipment indigenously. 31 corporates participated in the exhibition which generated lots of interest amongst participants. The main highlights were Drones, Counter-Drone Systems, Modular Firing Ranges, Small Arms, NAVIC-based devices, Surveillance Systems, Protective Gear, Self-Propelled Artillery Guns, Military Vehicles etc.

A guided tour of the Gandhi Smriti was conducted for all the participants. In addition, an evening dedicated to the rich culture of India was also organised. This included performances by the Indian Army’s Symphony Band and dance forms showcasing India’s vibrant traditions and art under the theme ‘Colours of India’.

An all-encapsulating event culminated with the Closing Ceremony in Manekshaw Centre, Delhi Cantt on 27 th September 23. Hon’ble Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Ajay Bhatt delivered the closing address and thanked all participants. The conference came to an end with a Flag Handing Over Ceremony. The IPACC and IPAMS flags were handed over by the Indian Army to the US Army.

The intense discussions and engagements between the Chiefs, Heads of Delegations, Senior Officers, Junior Leaders and their spouses helped in building bonds between the Armies. The forum provided an opportunity for all participants to hear distinguished speakers and participate in discussions based on wide-ranging themes. The event achieved the envisaged outcomes such as evolving a shared vision for military cooperation, fostering a sense of collective responsibility, sharing best practices, appreciating areas and communities vulnerable to climate change, synergising approach to HADR response, increasing military exchange endeavours, progressing defence diplomacy initiatives and reinforcing the importance of open and sustained dialogue to jointly address issues that impact the Indo-Pacific countries. All participating nations thanked the co-hosts for the invite and the Indian Army for the warm hospitality they were accorded.

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