Recent joint exercises have brought British and Indian forces closer than ever. Today, the strength of the partnership was on display when the Indian Army Chief, on his four-day visit to England, was accorded a formal welcome ceremony in London with a special parade by the British Army Guards.
At the request of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff, General Sir Patrick Saunders, 7th Company of the Coldstream Guards, in his crimson tunics and black bearskin caps, gave General Manoj a guard of honor on Horse Guards Parade. Pandey, Chief of the Indian Army.
The Captain of the Guards, Capt. Zacharias Faja, paid his respects to the distinguished visitor and invited the Indian General to inspect the guard of honour.
Harmony among nations
The Grenadier Guards Band, conducted by its Music Director Captain Robert Smith, performed a bespoke concert to support the occasion, illustrating the harmony that exists between our two nations.
There have been a number of bilateral visits and military engagements between the UK and India since early 2023, including the UK Chief of Defense Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin’s visit to India in April.
Work together for future success
Indian troops from 6th Battalion Bihar Regiment visited the Salisbury Plain Training Area in England in May 2023 to participate in the demanding military exercise Exercise Ajaya Warrior.
It involved troops from the UK Air Force’s 16th Fighter Group working intensively to deliver a sophisticated training package that closely simulated joint combat engagements.
A company from the Bihar Regiment was integrated into the 2nd Battalion’s Battle Group, Royal Gurkha Rifles, in a pioneering simulated training environment that thoroughly tested the capabilities of the two nations to work together under pressure to conduct high-speed operations.
The results were extraordinary and both countries agreed that it was some of the best training they had received, improving ‘maneuverability’ (the ability of countries to operate for maximum impact).
The king stands where he is
Today, as Big Ben reaches the half-hour mark, General Sir Patrick Saunders, along with General Manoj Pandey, inspects one of England’s most iconic stops.
With a clear view of the Old Admiralty on one side, Number 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace on the other, it’s the same spot where the monarch salutes during the Trooping of the Color ceremony for her official birthday in June. .
There was a strong sense of faithful continuity in ritual reception.
The regiments represented in the parade are among the most historic in the British Army and have enjoyed a world-renowned reputation for excellence in combat operations and ceremonial duties for almost 400 years.
Glad to see an Indian in line
In their ranks today is Guard Singh, who was born in Chandigarh, Punjab, India.
After being inspired by stories he read online about the British Army, he started following The Guards on social media.
He moved to England in 2021 to pursue his dream of becoming a King’s Guard, and today he has the great honor of marching in that capacity as a member of No. 7 Company Coldstream Guards.
As General Manoj Pandey inspected the ranks, he stopped to talk to Kard Singh, who joined the British Army, another example of how our two countries are working closer than ever.
Future military engagements
Immediately after the inspection, the two generals visited the historic grand offices overlooking Horse Guards Parade to discuss our shared future military commitments and opportunities for joint training.
General Manoj Pandey also met the Deputy Chief of Defense Staff, General Quinn Jenkins RM, and General Sir Jim Hockenhull, Commander of the UK Strategic Command.
The British Chief of Staff accompanied the Indian General on a rich cultural tour in London.
Critical to our future stability
The UK has made the Indo-Pacific ‘pivot’ a permanent pillar of our international policy. The region is important to our economy, our security and our interest in an open and stable international order.
Today’s Honor Guard testifies that India is an equal partner to England in this and that friendship is very valuable.
This type of ceremonial reception is considered a special and memorable moment of high respect from one country to another.
First Indian representative to achieve such honor
On Friday, around 200 cadet officers, including 45 international cadets, will graduate from Course 223 as commissioned officers at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst.
He will salute Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pandey, the Sovereign’s representative in the parade, instead of the King.
He is the first Indian representative to achieve such honour.
Visits such as these help increase understanding of our shared capabilities, objectives and military priorities, all of which are vital to a strong UK-India strategic partnership.
The British Army is a global force, constantly engaged around the world, training and working with its partners to best support the Government’s Global Britain agenda.
Investing in our relationship, particularly one as important as India, where we work together to champion a rules-based international order, is a clear demonstration that the UK is open, outward-looking and confident on the world stage.
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