For a fortnight later this month, the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand will be teeming with soldiers of the US Army. They will be rubbing shoulders with their counterparts from the Indian Army as part of Yudh Abhyas 2018.
This joint military training exercise will see 350 participants from each country engage in joint operations against terrorism in what will be a fictitious but realistic mountainous setting in Chaubatia.
To be held from 16 September to 29 September, Yudh Abhyas 2018 will be the 14thedition of the exercise between India and the United States. This particular combat exercise will, however, see a new level of engagement.
The exercise will have a Division Headquarter based Command Post Exercise and an Infantry Battalion carrying out a Field Training Exercise, something that has not been tried out in the past.
According to a defence spokesperson, both the countries have decided to progressively increase the scope and content of Yudh Abhyas over the years.
Yudh Abhyas 2018 was a “a progressive step towards joint training operations against terrorism and insurgencies in which both the armies of the two democratic nations will be profited with each other’s rich operational experiences,” the spokesperson added.
It will strengthen the interoperability (compatibility) between the forces of the two countries.
Yudh Abhyas 2018 Against Terrorism, Insurgency
Yudh Abhyas 2018 is a combined effort by both the countries to control insurgencies and terrorist activities in mountainous terrain under the United Nations charter.
During the exercise, the army personnel will initially get to know each other’s organisational structure, weapons, equipment, confidence training and tactical drills, the spokesperson said.
Later, there will be joint tactical exercises in which the battle drills of both the armies are coherently unleashed. In the end, both the troops will come together to execute a counter-terrorism operation.
There will be experts from both the nations to discuss issues of mutual interest.
US, India Ramp Up Military Ties
The exercise will come days after the two countries agreed to hold tri-services joint exercises in 2019. To be held off the eastern coast of India, it will mark the first time that all three arms of the Indian armed forces, the Army, Navy, and Air Force will come together for an exercise with the United States.
The decision came during the India-US 2+2 Dialogue held in Delhi on 6 September. The talks led to several important agreements between the two sides.
Other Joint Military Exercises
India frequently conducts joint military exercises with other countries to test the abilities of its personnel and equipment in different scenarios.
In June, the Indian Navy joined the United States and Japan for the Malabar Exercise that was held off the coast of Guam, in the Philippine Sea.
Last month, India participated in the multinational Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Peace Mission Exercise held in Russia.
In April, the Indian Air Force conducted Operation Gagan Shakti, the country’s largest military exercise in nearly 30 years. The exercise, which lasted from 10 April to 23 April, simulated a war-time scenario on two fronts, Pakistan as well as China.
Conducted in two phases, it began in the Western Sector, along the border with Pakistan. It then moved to the Eastern Sector, with a focus on China.