PLA participates in SCO anti-terrorism exercise in Russia

Chinese troops taking part in the Peace Mission 2021, a military counter-terrorism exercise for member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, paraded on Monday at a training ground in Orenburg, Russia. The participants come from eight SCO member states, including China, Russia and Kazakhstan. (LI CHUN / CHINA NEWS SERVICE)

The Peace Mission 2021, a major multinational counterterrorism exercise involving member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, opened on Monday at a military training ground in Orenburg, southwest Russia.

About 4,000 officers and soldiers from eight SCO members, including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and India, take part in the exercise at the Donguz shooting range.

China’s People’s Liberation Army dispatched 558 soldiers and 130 vehicles to the event, the SCO’s 14th joint exercise.

Colonel-General Aleksandr Lapin, commander of the Central Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, announced the opening of the 2021 peacekeeping mission in a ceremony on Monday. The exercise is being held to mark the SCO’s 20th anniversary, he said, noting that it is a strong, significant measure against terrorism.

The exercise will demonstrate and test new joint combat tactics to counter new weapons acquired by terrorists. “We believe that, through the joint efforts of the participating soldiers, we will definitely meet the specified tasks and make the exercise a complete success,” said the Russian general.

Maj. Gen. Zhao Kangping, deputy chief of staff of the PLA’s Northern Theater Command and commander of the Chinese forces participating in the exercise, said the exercise is designed to expand and deepen political trust, military exchanges, and defense and security cooperation among SCO members. It is expected to improve their skills in dealing with new challenges and threats, as well as helping to ensure peace and security in the region, he added.

Three groups of Chinese soldiers marched in a parade after the ceremony.

The exercise is divided into two sections. Commanders meet Monday through Wednesday to plan tactics and maneuvers while troops are trained. Troops will participate in live fire counterterrorism exercises Thursday through Friday.

He Lei, a retired lieutenant general and now senior researcher at the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Military Science, said it made sense for the SCO to celebrate its 20th international and regional affairs and play an active role in securing world peace and regional stability.