DUSHANBE, September 14, Asia-Plus - A three-day joint counterterrorism exercise for Tajik and Chinese servicemen, dubbed Interaction 2006, was launched in southern Tajikistan today.  

 A source in the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the exercise focuses on international terrorism, dealing with crises, and strengthening each country''s capacity to handle new challenges and threats.  The purpose of the exercise being held at the Mumirak military range in the Khatlon province is to rehearse cooperation and interaction in counterterrorism operations. 

The exercise involves a sub-unit of paratroopers of Tajik Mobile Forces and a company of Special Force of Chinese National Army supported by combined artillery battalion and Tajik combat helicopters and aircraft, according to the source. 

The war game is being conducted in two stages. The first stage includes preparation for interaction between the forces of the two countries.  The latter stage will include joint counterterrorism operations at the Mumirak military range on September 23.  The exercise scenario is based on discovering and eliminating terrorist groups. 

The MoD source says Deputy Tajik Defense Minister also Commander of Tajikistan’s Ground Forces, Major-General Sherali Mirzoyev, is in overall command of the upcoming exercise. 

The joint Tajik-Chinese war game in southern Tajikistan will be conducted within the framework of the Shanghai Convention on the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism, as well as a plan of military and military-technical cooperation between the defense ministries of Tajikistan and China for 2006.

The Tajik-Chinese military exercise is one of several joint military exercises taking place within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose members are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

China’s Xinhua reports the first joint military exercise that China carried out under the SCO banner was with Kyrgyzstan in October 2002.  China and other SCO members have also carried out military drills involving several countries.  In August 2003, all the SCO members except Uzbekistan carried out their first-ever joint anti-terror exercise.

According to a joint communiqu? signed by the SCO defense ministers in April, they agreed to stage a joint anti-terror military exercise in 2007 in Russia.  An expert group will be set up to coordinate the preparation and implementation of the joint war game.