Over the past few years, the organisation’s activities have expanded to include increased military cooperation, intelligence sharing, and counterterrorism.
There have been a number of SCO joint military exercises. The first of these was held in 2003, with the first phase taking place in Kazakhstan and the second in China. Since then China and Russia have teamed up for large-scale war games in 2005 (Peace Mission 2005), 2007 and 2009, under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. At the joint military exercises in 2007 (known as “Peace Mission 2007”) which took place in Chelyabinsk Russia, near the Ural Mountains and close to Central Asia, as was agreed upon in April 2006 at a meeting of SCO Defence Ministers, more than 4,000 Chinese soldiers participated. Air forces and precision-guided weapons were also used. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said that the exercises would be transparent and open to media and the public. Following the war games’ successful completion, Russian officials began speaking of India joining such exercises in the future and the SCO taking on a military role. Peace Mission 2010, conducted September 9-25 at Kazakhstan’s Matybulak training area, saw over 5,000 personnel from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan conduct joint planning and operational maneuvers.
The SCO has served as a platform for larger military announcements by members. During the 2007 war games in Russia, with leaders of SCO member states in attendance including Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin used the occasion to take advantage of a “captive” audience: Russian strategic bombers, he said, would resume regular long-range patrols for the first time since the Cold War. “Starting today, such tours of duty will be conducted regularly and on the strategic scale”, Putin said. “Our pilots have been grounded for too long. They are happy to start a new life.”