A joint anti-terrorism military exercise, sponsored by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and slated for Aug. 9-17, will enhance the exchange among SCO member countries and improve their counter-terror capabilities, experts said.
The first joint exercise was carried out on Monday at the Chebarkul drill site near the Ural Mountains city of Chelyabinsk.
"We may hope that all tasks in the interests of the SCO member states will be successfully fulfilled," Russian commander Vladimir Moltensky said after the two-hour exercise.
"The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not aimed against third countries and operates only in the interests of member states," he added.
The "Peace Mission 2007" drill, involving about 6,500 military personnel from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, will be carried out in Chelyabinsk and Urumqi, capital of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Commanders from the six countries will hold consultations and make decisions in Urumqi upon receiving alert of an assumed terrorist attack on a Russian town and the field practice will then continue in Russian military ranges near Chelyabinsk.
"In terms of both scale and content, the joint drill will reflect the trends of counter-terror exercises and bears an historic significance as a milestone in military cooperation among the six SCO member countries," said Zhen Shouhua, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Military Science.
"The joint drill will not indulge in empty talk but practice coordination and command in anti-terror combat. It will also serve to maintain regional peace and stability," Zhen said, noting that it is difficult for one country or its military forces to crack down on all terrorist organizations and activities that continue to grow worldwide.
Heads of states and defense ministers of the SCO member countries will attend the live fire exercise on Aug. 17, which will involve airborne troops, special task forces, armored vehicles, military helicopters and fighters, said Qian Lihua, deputy general director of the Chinese troops.
Such drill has been expanded with increasing member countries, combined troops and a much more complicated situation since the first of its kind was held in 2002, Qian said.
"We can only cope with security challenges, and secure peace and development by enhancing cooperation when terrorism, separatism and extremism are active in the region," Qian said.
(Xinhua News Agency August 7, 2007)