India, U.S. militaries match skills in Alaska
Two sides set to hone skills in counter-terror operations in mountainous terrain and cold climate conditions
The 17th edition of the India-U.S. bilateral exercise, Yudh Abhyas 2021, got under way at the Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska, U.S., with the two sides set to hone their skills in counter-terror operations in mountainous terrain and cold climate conditions.
Interestingly, this is the only India-U.S. service exercise continuing in bilateral format.
Exercise became trilateral
The India-U.S. Malabar naval exercise became trilateral with the addition of Japan in 2015 and further brought in all the Quad partners together with the inclusion of Australia in 2020. Similarly, Japan joined the India-U.S. bilateral air exercise, Cope India, as an Observer in 2018 and the plan is to make it trilateral in phases. India and the U.S. also hold a tri-service exercise.
“The exercise aims at enhancing understanding, cooperation and inter-operability. It will focus on combined arms manoeuvres in cold climatic conditions and is primarily aimed at sharing tactical level drills and learning best practices from each other,” the Army said. The exercise scheduled from October 15 to 29 will culminate after a 48-hour validation phase.
Exercise Yudh Abhyas is the largest running joint military training and defence cooperation endeavour between the two countries, the Army said.
From the U.S. side, 300 soldiers belonging to the First Squadron (Airborne) of the 40th Cavalry Regiment and 350 soldiers of the 7 Madras infantry battalion of the Army are participating in the exercise. The 14-day training schedule includes activities on joint training in a counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism environment under the U.N. mandate, the Army said.
“This will help them in undertaking joint operations at the battalion level in mountainous terrain with cold climatic conditions under the ambit of the U.N.” The previous version of this exercise was held at the Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Bikaner in February 2021.
At the opening ceremony, Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler, Commander US Army, Alaska, stressed upon the importance of free exchange of ideas, concepts and best practices and the necessity to learn from each others’ experiences.
Other than the Malabar, Japan had sent observers for the first time during Cope India 2018 as an Observer in 2018. As was reported by The Hindu then, the U.S. had proposed a trilateral air exercise with the three countries and so Japan was included as an Observer and the exercise elevated to trilateral level in phases.
This leaves the bilateral Army exercise between the two countries in which too, the U.S. had suggested the inclusion of Japan few years back but was not accepted by India at that time. It could happen in the future, an official source said.