|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
Concluding on August 14, 2019, India comprehensively won the Army Scout Masters Competition 2019 held from August 6 to August 14 at Jaisalmer. This was the 5th Army Scout Masters Competition, held for the first time outside Russia. Army Scout Masters Competition is part of International Army Games organised by Russia since 2015 under aegis of Russia's Ministry of Defence. For the past four years, Army Scout Masters Competition was held at Koltsovo training grounds in Novosibirsk Region of Russia; conducted under established format of competition amongst scouts. The format of International Army Games has been that around 30 countries participate in the games, battling out in dozens of competitions spread over a fortnight to prove which country has the best military.
At the closing ceremony of Army Scout Masters Competition 2018 in Russia, Brig Ramankutty Prem Raj of Indian Army announced that the next Army Scout Masters Competition will be held in Jaisalmer, India. After awarding the winners and runners up, the Russian side handed the flag of International Army Games and the cup with their symbols to the Indian side. Thanking the Russian side, Brigadier Raj had said, "A true scout must be flexible and able to be adept to any climatic conditions. Scouts have to be ready to perform in desert areas". Earlier this year, it was proposed that the International Army Games be held in 32 disciplines in 10 countries including Russia, India, China, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Iran, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
A total of eight teams participated in Army Scout Masters Competition 2019; India, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Belarus. India was participating for the first time in this competition. A world-class infrastructure for the competition was created at Jaisalmer military station, to conduct the competition, which included an obstacle course for the infantry combat vehicles (CVs) spread over 6.7 km with 15 obstacles and another obstacle course for the Scout Masters teams with 22 obstacles laid over a distance of 1.3 km. The judges and referees for the competition were from an international panel including from co-host Russia. The competition was held in five stages as under which tested the overall skills of mechanised infantry scouts in simulated battle scenarios:
The Indian Army Mechanised Infantry Team (2 Mech Inf) had undergone rigorous training with 20 GUARDS under aegis of HQ Southern Command and the Konark Corps. The team comprised 10 individuals; seven Guardsmen and one sniper from 1 PARA (SF). In accordance with the maxim 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going', the Indian Army team won this grueling competition comprehensively. Results of the competition are: first – India; second – Russia; third – China; fourth – Uzbekistan; fifth – Belarus; sixth – Kazakhstan; seventh – Sudan, and; eighth – Armenia. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, accompanied by General Bipin Rawat, graced the closing ceremony, which commenced with ceremonial marching of all the participating contingents into the stadium. The Defence Minister addressed the participants and welcomed the representatives of the International Organizing Committee, dignitaries and other guests. He also thanked Southern Command for the flawless and successful conduct of the event, and appreciated the sportsman spirit, dedication and the professional standards displayed by all the teams participating in the competition. He stressed that competitions are an excellent platform to allow countries to build a constructive dialogue, strengthening friendship, partnership and trust, and that such military events would lead to interoperability and sharing of best practices thereby, benefiting all the participating nations. The Defence Minister thereafter declared the fifth Army Scout Masters Competition 2019 closed.
The prize distribution ceremony took place wherein the Defence Minister gave away the Champions Trophy to the winning Indian team, and Runner's Up Trophy to Russia. The Closing Ceremony culminated with a cultural program to depict the rich cultural heritage of India. The participating countries and teams were highly appreciative of the conduct, arrangements and hospitality extended to them during the entire duration. Considering the prowess of the Indian Army and the experience it has in operating in tricky deserts like that in Jaisalmer region, our team was expected to win, which it did. It is expected India will perform equally well in future army competitions at the international level.