NEW DELHI - In the largest combat exercise in recent times, the Indian army has launched massive armoured, artillery and infantry manoeuvres in Suratgarh area of Rajasthan , bordering Pakistan, to practise for "swift multiple offensives deep into enemy territory".

The exercise, codenamed 'Brahmashira', is particularly significant since they are being conducted by 2 'Kharga' Corps, which is the most crucial of the army's three 'strike' formations. The 2 Corps, headquartered in Ambala, virtually contains almost 50 per cent of the country's strike capabilities.

Over 20,000 soldiers, with armoured, artillery, infantry, air defence and engineer brigades, are practising manoeuvres to allow army formations to "break through multiple obstacles in a restricted timeframe", Times of India said quoting a senior officer. "The focus of the exercise is on new and efficient ways of fighting a war in a synergised battlefield. The combat manoeuvres also co-opt a significant contribution from IAF's fighter aircraft and attack helicopters," he added.

After Operation Parakram in 2002 exposed operational gaps and the slow troop mobilisation along the border, the army reorganised its formations along the western front to deliver a more effective lethal punch with swiftness.

This involved the creation of the South-Western Command (SWAC) in Jaipur in 2005 as the 1.17-million strong army's sixth operational command. While 1 'Strike' Corps falls under SWAC, the other two such "attack" formations are 2 Corps (Ambala) under the Western Army Command at Chandimandir and 21 Corps (Bhopal) under the Southern Army Command in Pune.