The Indo-US joint military exercise, Yudh Abhyas 09, was conducted on Monday here. The exercise, seen as a significant chapter in the ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries, was conducted under the aegis of the HQ Southern Command and the White Tigers division.

The exercise, held under the framework of Chapter 7 of the United Nations Peace Keeping Operations, saw a display of the powerful Javelin anti-tank guided missiles along with the famous Stryker vehicles, with the latter being deployed in India for the first time.

The exercise conformed to the Joint Operations under a UN mandate and was primarily focused around Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism strategies in a semi-urban scenario. Around 300 American and 450 Indian defence personnel participated in the exercise which will be concluded this coming Thursday.

Along with peace keeping operations, including Military Coordination, Military Decision Making Process and Rules of Engagement, the exercise also emphasized human rights aspects, civil military operations, community operations and logistics support operations.

At 17, the exercise saw the largest number of Strykers being deployed outside of Iraq and Afghanistan by the U.S. Pacific Rim forces.

This is the first Indo-US joint mechanized forces exercise, with an Indian mechanized Battalion participating along with a Stryker squadron in a joint exercise for the first time.

Reiterating America’s consistent emphasis on improving ties with India, Lt-Gen Benjamin Mixon of the US army said that “we are ready to work together anywhere and anytime” with the Indian army.

“It was wonderful training with the Indian army in this joint peace enforcement exercise,” said Mixon.”

With the ongoing border tension between India and China as a background, the exercise runs the risk of being read as a political statement. However, Director General Military Operations Lt-Gen A.S. Sekhon rubbished concerns raised by the media about how would the exercise be interpreted in Beijing and Islamabad.

“Let me be very clear. There are no messages being sent out to anyone through this,” said Mr. Sekhon. “It is just a training exercise and should not be interpreted in any other way,” he added.