The art of winning the war is to know the enemy. It is vital to be aware of the enemy’s moves, expertise, and capabilities while increasing one’s own strengths and overcoming the weaknesses. Military exercises are a key component of sharing knowledge, abilities, expertise and enhancing the training level for joint operations between the militaries of two or more countries. Various countries in the world conduct joint military exercises regularly as part of their military cooperation with one another. The Turkish military exercise “Anatolian Eagle” is an international military exercise that is held every year in Turkey. It is aimed at improving the capabilities of mutual support between forces through various tactics and techniques in a real combat environment.
The latest Pakistan-Turkey joint military exercise “Anatolian Eagle 2021” was held between 21st June and 02nd July 2021. Pakistan’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Zaheer ud Din Babur also visited the third main jet-base in Konya to view the multinational air exercises. This year’s exercise also included the participation of Azerbaijan and Qatar and NATO AWACS also participated in the exercise. The exercise has further contributed towards the development of defence synergies and cooperation between the two states. Many of the countries were there in the observer status as well. It includes the participation of JF-17 Thunder, Turkish F-16 C/D, Qatar’s Rafale, Azerbaijan MIG-29 and SU-25, and NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft.
The exercise was conducted in a real scenario, in order to improve the capabilities and training skills of various combat forces, it gives a platform to perform joint combat missions and understand and compare the operational procedures of various aircrafts, thus maximizing the vision, and enhancing mutual support between the forces. The training aids such as Post Mission Analysis System and Air-Combat Maneuvering System were also used, which gives a clear understanding and comparison of the combat forces and inculcates an advanced training environment for the preparation of actual combats. The significance of air training and operations for the actual deployment of forces in a real setup is further augmented through such exercises.
Pakistan apparently has shifted its focus from conducting military training in one country, earlier, to now developing alliances for its military buildup and capacity building. Pakistan conducted “Ataturk-XI 2021” exercise with Turkey earlier this year, with a focus on counter-terrorism operations; the “Aman 2021” exercise was also conducted along with 45 countries, with a number of observer countries as well, to enhance the maritime skills. Such kinds of exercises are essential for the capacity building of the states. By indulging and involving with the defence capabilities of the other states, the true potential of one’s own state comes out. The Anatolian-Eagle 2021 also aims at enhancing the interoperability between the participating forces. As many other states are also participating with their hi-tech air platforms, it is an opportunity for Pakistan to look and observe the capabilities of those platforms. The aircrafts such as Qatar’s Rafale also took part in the exercise, hence it gives an advantage to Pakistan to envisage and get a clearer picture of the capabilities of aircrafts that are owned by Pakistan’s regional counterpart India with a great hype. The JF-17 Thunder and Dassault Rafale flew together at the Anatolian Eagle, which gave clearer insight and a better understanding of the two aircraft in comparison to each other.
Moreover, the relations with Azerbaijan have also improved significantly. Pakistan also fully supported Azerbaijan in its Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and extended its support for rehabilitation in the post-Karabakh scenario as well. Turkey, on the other hand, stood by Pakistan on all the important forums, whether it’s supporting the conundrum of NSG, raising voice in favor of the Kashmiri people alongside Pakistan on international forums, to the financial issues and FATF. The enhanced relations between the two Muslim countries in the region would have a positive impact on regional peace and stability, as well.
Turkey has always been on Pakistan’s side, and both countries speak together on various common issues and agendas. Now the military to military cooperation of the two states would further enhance the relations. The Chinese project of One Belt One Road, in which Turkey also has a key role, shows the enhancing relations between the three countries. Pakistan has a robust relationship with China; the two countries are mutually dependent on various economic forums and bear militarist and economic importance for one another. Russia, on the other hand, has also made a shift in its geostrategic calculus and Pakistan has to play rigorously to enhance its relationship with Russia.
Thus, Pakistan is looking at other sides and is expanding its horizon for military and capacity building of its forces. Pakistan has to further go for such alliance buildups, in order to deal with the emergent threats. The geostrategic environment is changing and Pakistan seeks to enhance its defence and diplomatic ties to deal with the threats within and outside the country.
*Amber Afreen Abid, Research Associate, Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Islamabad.