SCO joint military exercises focus on anti-terrorism

International security theory is put into practice as Russia, China and four Central Asian countries conduct their first joint anti-terrorism exercises. Military personnel from the six countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation took part in the ma

Over 7,000 servicemen took part, showing off anti-terrorist techniques in front of the heads of the six countries that make up the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The high-profile guests had lunch after the training finished. Russia's President Vladimir Putin has held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao. They were expected to discuss the positive effects and, possibly, the downfalls of the military exercises which were unprecedented for China, in terms of size and the distance covered by the Chinese troops, namely over 10,000 KM. Russia's President has always stressed the fact these kind of exercises need to occur on a regular basis, and possibly that was raised between the two presidents.

The worst-case scenario with explosions, battlefields, human lives at risk shows the chaos of terrorism in the 21st century. But it is not a full-scale crisis: in a global war on terror it seems that the best way to be prepared is to stage war games.

The constructed scenario is very life-like. A terrorist group seizes a small town, taking residents hostage and attempting to usurp power. After long technical debates, intelligence operations and battle preparations, the 6,000 troops are ready to strike. There are attacks from the air with dozens of helicopters flying low, firing missiles and deploying troops. Tanks and armour vehicles on the ground are lining up to form a strong defence line. In the space of two hours the terrorists are disarmed and secured, the hostages freed. The 2007 mission is accomplished.

It is the first time the exercises are being held by the six members of the SCO simultaneously. The interchange of experience will be very useful for further co-operation,

Russian Maj. General Oleg Kolyada

For the final stage of the joint military exercises all heads of the SCO member states came to watch. They make no secret of the fact that security is one of the Organisation's top priorities.

“All parts of the Russian military were involved, such as the Defence Ministry, the Internal Affairs Ministry and the internal troops. Of course, it is difficult to co-ordinate activities within such military stretches, and it is even more difficult when six different countries are involved,” Aleksandr Belousov, Russia's Deputy Defence Minister, commented.

Leaders of Russia and China who brought the largest amount of troops and arms to the scene expressed their satisfaction with the event.

«7500 and more that 150 vehicles make this a serious event. But leaders of our military have shown great capacity and organisational abilities. The participants of the exercises, soldiers and officers have shown excellent competence. These games are yet another step towards strengthening relations of our countries», Russia's President Vladimir Putin stated.

Some say the Peace Mission-2007 exercises may be just a war game. But everything from preparations and dimensions of the training to the attention paid by the SCO leaders show that security is a term they will not play with.

Aleksandr Pikaev, a political analyst from the Institute for World Economy and International Relations, believes the exercises will help China and Russia react better in case of a serious terrorist incident.

“What is needed for the SCO countries is to improve interoperability for their forces because there are post-Soviet countries participating on one hand, and China on the other, and we do not have problems in interoperability between former Soviet republics, but we certainly have problems with China because of language and different training mode. Therefore, such manoeuvres are necessary to improve the interoperability in order to react effectively if something happens in Central Asia. Certainly, we need Russian and Chinese forces to understand each other,” Aleksandr Pikaev noted.