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India-Australia young-defence officers program in Delhi

The program was designed to foster friendships and working relationships at a junior officer level and to establish long-lasting bonds between the future strategic leaders of each nation.

Indian Army officers Mrinal Kumar and Ankit Sharma meet Australian Army Captain Jason Greenwall at the General Rawat India-Australia Young Officer Exchange Program. Photos: Lieutenant Stephen Hunter, Australian govt defense. 

The inaugural India-Australia young officers exchange program, under the direction of General Rawat, came to an end on March 14 in Delhi. Five Australian officers from each service visited India as part of the exchange program, which was started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and jointly announced in 2021 with the  then Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The 15 Australian and 15 Indian officers visited a variety of operational units, military schools, research and development centers, and participated in a number of cultural exchanges and visits during the two-week tour.

Australian and Indian officers viewing a parachute demonstration at the Parachute Training School in Agra as part of the exchange program. (Image - Australian govt defense)

The program, created in memory of the late Indian Chief of Defence Staff, occurred during a crucial period for ties between India and Australia, which includes Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's visit to India in early March and the Australian test cricket tour of the country.

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.

Indian Navy Captain Anil Singh and members of the General Rawat India-Australia Young Officers Exchange Program at the Indian Naval Aviation Museum in Goa. (Image - Australian govt defense)

The Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Commander Sid Raper, said despite some cultural differences there are many similarities between the two forces and nations. “We bonded very quickly with our counterparts, and all the officers on the program have made friendship that will outlast the bounds of the program.”

Australian Army Captain Jason Greenwell and Indian Army Major Pankaj Kumar celebrating the Holi Festival in Agra, India. (Image - Australian govt defense)

The program featured cultural exchange trips to Goa, Delhi markets, Agra’s Taj Mahal, and Hyderabad's Golconda Fort outside of the hectic pace of official activity. The Holi celebrations added colour to the bilateral program.