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A 96-hour-long lightning war-game near ‘Chicken’s Neck’

A team of the elite Special Forces rehearsed their aerial insertion capability

chickensneck Image courtesy: Supplied

It may be a small exercise for India’s military but a crucial one for the country’s tactical strategy in the East.

Cognizant of the vulnerability of the narrow ‘Chicken’s Neck’ to the threat of incursions from the north, a team of the elite Special Forces rehearsed their aerial insertion capability and rapid response in a 96-hour long exercise named ‘Vayu Prahar’ (strike from the air).

Yet at the same time, the Indian military’s ongoing theaterisation and integration plan took a further step with the joint Army-Indian Air Force (IAF) intra-theatre air mobility operations.

A security establishment source said: “In the second week of March 2023, the Indian Army and the Air force jointly conducted a Multi Domain Air-Land Exercise ‘Vayu Prahar’ in the Eastern Theatre to validate joint plans to prosecute synergised multiple domain operations.”

Multi-Domain operations aim to orchestrate military activities across all domains to deliver converging effects. The main elements of the exercise involved advanced free-fall techniques, insertion, surveillance and targeting practice and seizing of key objectives by going behind enemy lines.

“The scope of the joint exercise included rapid mobilisation of an earmarked Rapid Reaction Force from the hinterland to undertake air-landed operations in a nominated Advance Landing Ground. The air landed force further executes contingency tasks as per a realistic exercise scenario in challenging high-altitude terrain conditions.” 

“The conduct of Exercise ‘Vayu Prahar’ enabled coordination and rehearsal amongst various agencies for quick mobilisation, transportation and deployment of forces within a theatre which can be executed across theatres. The exercise validated and refined procedures quintessential for synergised joint operations. Army Formations, Special Forces along with Indian Air Force participated in the 96-hour exercise in the Eastern Theatre,” the source added.

The about-60-km-long ‘Chicken’s Neck’ snakes between Bhutan in the north and Bangladesh in the south. Just 22 km at its narrowest point, it is a stretch through which all rail and road links pass through for connecting the Indian mainland with the Northeast region.

The area is close to the Doklam plateau located near the trijunction between India, China-controlled Tibet and Bhutan, which was the scene of a 73-day-long stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in 2017.

It is believed that the Chinese military covets control of the Jampheri (Zompelri) Ridge, a strategically-important geographical landmass that shoots up by about 500 metres from the craggy and desolate surroundings just north-northeast of the Siliguri Corridor.

Whoever controls the Jampheri Ridge would hold a commanding view of the narrow corridor that would also expose the roads, bridges and any moving object to heavy artillery fire. 


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