President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa Tuesday had praise for a Zimbabwe contingent of serving soldiers who recently participated in the 2018 International Army Games in Russia. The annual games allow the different world forces to improve their efficiency, knowledge and friendship.

The army sporting extravaganza, billed the Olympics of the military world, are now in their fourth year.

They are the brainchild of the Russian military while Zimbabwe is taking part in the friendly war games for the third time.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as the country’s Defence Minister, also attended the edition briefly and returned home last weekend.

Speaking during National Defence Forces Day commemorations, Mnangagwa said the country will continue exploring all opportunities that work towards improvement of the armed forces.

“We are proud that our forces continue to raise the Zimbabwean flag high through demonstration of professionalism, intelligence, wherever they are deployed,” he said.

“Furthermore, the ZDF currently has a contingent of officers and men participating in the Russian International Military Games which are being hosted by the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, China and Belarus.

“International interactions of this nature are critical in improving the operational capabilities of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces as well as its image at the world stage.

“Most importantly, participation of our forces at that level helps to sharpen their skills, while at the same time improving their professional conduct and preparedness to defend Zimbabwe. This over and above the obvious benefit of improving bilateral diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and other participating countries,” said Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwean teams participated in tank biathlon, masters of artillery fire, military medical relay, army scout masters and sniper frontier.

This year’s game started on July 29 and ended on August 12.

Russia has shown off its military might in massive army games featuring 4,000 personnel from 28 countries.

Dubbed by Russian media as ‘the contest for real men’, it featured an event called the Tank Biathlon in which a crew does laps of a 5km obstacle course while shooting at targets.

The biathlon, which tests the crew’s speed and shooting accuracy, took place in the Alabino military training centre.

Russia is said to be using its modified T-72B3M, China has brought its Type 96 while India has opted for the host nation’s T-90S.

Other countries that took part in the games include Iran, Egypt, Angola, Morocco, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

Servicemen would opt to compete in 28 army disciplines, from the Medical Relay Race to a Field Kitchen competition involving army cooks.

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