On March 14, Delhi saw the conclusion of the first General Rawat India-Australia Young Officers Exchange Program.
5 officers from each service travel to India as part of the initiative, which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi started and jointly announced in 2021 with then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison. This will create an annual exchange program between the two countries.
The 15 Australian and 15 Indian officers visited various operational units, military institutions, and research and development centres during their two-week tour. They also engaged in several cultural interactions and visits.
In addition to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s visit to Australia in early March and the Australian test cricket tour of India, the program was created in memory of the late Indian Chief of Defence Staff. It is crucial time for relations between India and Australia.
The ties built during the journey will be precious for the future of Australia-India relations, according to Commodore Damien Scully-O’Shea, head of the Australian Defense Staff in India.
According to Commodore Scully-O’Shea, the young officers’ professional and personal ties define genuine cooperation. “The program’s first iteration has established a high bar,” he said.
“Australia and India are working closely together, and we have a promising future as comprehensive strategic partners.”
The program’s goal was to create enduring links between the upcoming strategic leaders of each country by encouraging friendships and collaborative partnerships among junior officers.
There are similarities between the two countries, according to Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Commander Sid Raper, the senior officer of the Australian contingent, notwithstanding some cultural distinctions.
According to Lieutenant Commander Raper, “we linked with our counterparts quite fast, and all the officers on the program have formed friendships that will transcend the scope of the training.”
“It was especially encouraging to observe that, while we were learning a lot about how India runs its defence force, the Indian officers individually learnt more about their sister services than they may have thought,” said the author.
The program featured cultural exchange trips to Goa, the marketplaces in Delhi, the Taj Mahal in Agra, and Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, outside the hectic pace of official activity.
Holi, the festival of colours, fell on the same day as the program.
According to Australian Army Captain Saarthak Shetty, Holi is an opportunity to experience a significant aspect of Indian culture.
Captain Shetty remarked, “It was wonderful to witness how enthusiastic the Indian officers welcomed us into their celebrations.”
According to Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lieutenant Aimee Parsons, there is a solid reason why India and Australia are referred to as natural partners.
“There is a genuine ease in knowing each other and becoming close friends,” Flight Lieutenant Parsons said. “Whether in the military forces, on the cricket field, or over a beer.”
“The Indian defence forces’ hospitality throughout the tour exceeded our expectations.
The standard has been set relatively high, and we look forward to showing them what Australia has to offer in return next year.