The Pakistan army's latest major field exercise codenamed Azm-e-Nau-3 (fresh resolve) is due to commence on April 10 and will conclude on May 13, 2010. This is the largest field exercise since the highly acclaimed Zarb-e-Momin of 1989, which field tested and validated the fresh concept of an "offensive defence" strategy. It had come as a sequel to Indian Army Chief General Sunderjee's highly ambitious "Operation Brasstacks". So a vital objective then was to send India a clear message: "Should it ever embark upon aggression against Pakistan, its army will hit back aggressively carrying the war into the enemy's territory." About 21 years down the line, having acquired state-of-the-art military hardware, developed a sound employment policy and taking cognisance of the paradigm shift in the strategic thinking of the enemy, Azm-e-Nau is the culmination of a long process of planning, deliberating, and evolving a concept of warfare that is mindful of the entire gamut of emerging threats. The exercise is being conducted in the backdrop of Pakistan's ongoing COIN (counter insurgency) operations, where the army is playing a major role and has won international acclaim for its efforts and success. The war that was thrust upon Pakistan, in the aftermath of 9/11, forced the army to evolve a new strategy in order to combat the faceless enemy. In 1988, while undergoing the joint services staff course, we had visited Germany for a study tour. The high point of the visit was to witness an exercise at the Hammelburg's School of Infantry, Bavarian district, by the German mechanised infantry in combating insurgency and conducting operations in an urban backdrop. The well planned and meticulously conducted exercise, executed with pinpoint precision won accolades from us and other international visitors. Little did I realise that 20 years later, our own armed forces would be involved in combating a mysterious enemy that targets mosques, schools and state institutions, besides maiming and killing women and children. The war against insurgency being fought by the Pakistan army through its blood, sweat and guts has no parallels in either modern or ancient warfare. However, Pakistan's COIN Ops are not against guerrilla operations or insurgency in its classic sense, nor is it fighting a war against resistance, but against an adversary that is armed, trained and abetted by Pakistan's traditional enemies, who are trying to destabilise it. It is noteworthy that Pakistan Army follows a biennial training system, where training objectives set forth are achieved over a span of two years. The training remains mission-oriented based on the prevailing security environment, which is methodical and progressive; culminating into Map Exercise, War Games or Field Exercises at various levels of command. Under General Kayani, who has declared the year 2009-10 as "the year of training", Azm-e-Nau would be a befitting finale to the comprehensive and also a realistic training package - conceptualised, formulated and validated during the "year of training". Moreover, the army's Azm-e-Nau has been dovetailed to coincide with PAF's ongoing Exercise "High Mark-2010", where joint operations, as envisaged by the Pakistan's defence planners will be put to test. A unique attribute of the exercise would be optimising the technological developments and advancement in intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance communication means that have not only revolutionised modern warfare, but has made early warning an essential feature. All these aspects will not only be optimally leveraged in the forthcoming exercise, but also heavily relied upon and tested to the core. PAF's platforms of Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW & C) Systems, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and ground based surveillance systems will come into full play as they have been envisaged, as the nucleus of operations, both in conventional warfare and COIN Ops. Keeping in view the deployment of Pakistan army's core elements in the defence of its eastern border and combating terrorism in the northwest, a modular concept of training has been visualised. This will enable the army to detach modules, participate in the major exercise and return to its primary duty in rotation. GHQ's Directorate of Military Training, the prime organisation tasked with conducting exercises and training, will be under a microscope since presently Pakistan is at the vortex of the 'global war on terror'. As the endgame in Afghanistan draws nearer, there is a scurry for the replacement of the US/NATO troops in the war-torn country. In this context, the Pakistani army has made a gracious offer of providing training on gratis basis to its Afghan counterparts including its police and security forces. Nevertheless, the successes of the army in Swat and Waziristan already make it a prime candidate for the job. Its performance in Azm-e-Nau-3 will add to the army's fresh resolve. The writer is a political and defence analyst.