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An observer from Pakistan Army was part of exercise Regional Cooperation 2019 (RC19) held from 5 – 16 August in Tajikistan. The exercise was sponsored by US Central Command (USCENTCOM) with the assistance of Massachusetts Army National Guard.
According to a media release by the US Army Central Public Affairs, the objective of conducting RC19 was to strengthen existing military cooperation among members of the US, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and promote interoperability in the Central and South Asia (CASA) region.
The exercise simulated a fictionalised scenario which focused on multiple operations that can be undertaken by military forces in a destabilised country. The exercise platform enabled participants to experience, and the Pakistan Army observer Colonel Muhammad Rashid Khan to witness, how regional states can familiarise with each other’s operational methodologies to overcome a looming crisis.
Colonel Anvar Akhmadjonzoda of the Tajikistan Armed Forces said that the exercise helped his national forces achieve absolute inter-unit compatibility while being involved in external peacekeeping operations.
“Tajiks, Mongols, Pakistanis, Uzbeks and Americans all have the same goal here, but various approaches and paths to a solution“, said Colonel Akhmadjonzoda.
Exercise Regional Cooperation has been conducted annually since 2001; the previous series was held in Massachusetts, US in September 2018.
The participation of an observer from Pakistan Army is noteworthy. On the regional front, Pakistan is already part of a China-led Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism (QCCM) which was formed in 2016 for the express purposes of countering terrorism; it comprises armed forces of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and Tajikistan.
US-led Regional Cooperation exercises, although a series of annual drills focused largely on stability and peacekeeping operations, provides Tajikistan with a unique experience of inter-operability with leading military forces of the West (US) and East (China).
Pakistan, also part of USCENTCOM’s Area of Responsibility (AOR), is an important partner for America’s stated efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan will remain an Observer in Regional Cooperation exercises or become a full-fledged participating state in the near future.