Yudh Abhyas 2016, a joint military training exercise of Indian and US Armies, was held at Chaubattia, Uttarakhand from September 15-27, 2016. This was the twelfth edition of the joint military exercise hosted alternately by both countries. The US contingent was represented by a Company of 5th Infantry Battalion, 20 Infantry Regiment, 2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7 Infantry Division, US Army while the Indian side was represented by an Infantry Battalion (12 MADRAS).
The opening ceremony of Yudh Abhyas 2016 was held at Chaubattia on September 15, 2016. Indian and US soldiers stood side by side in an impressive military parade that saw the unfurling of the national flags of both countries while their National Anthems "Jana Gana Mana" and "The Star Spangled Banner" played. The joint contingent gave a ceremonial salute to the two senior most officers of the US and Indian side reviewing the ceremony.The Indian Brigade Commander, Brig AK Kashid welcomed the US soldiers and in his inaugural remarks highlighted the common shared beliefs of democracy, freedom, equality and justice that both countries cherish.
The combined exercise simulated a scenario where both nations worked together in a Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism environment in mountainous terrain under a UN charter. The exercise witnessed participation of about 225 personnel of the US Army and similar strength of the Indian Army. The exercise curriculum was progressively planned where the participants are initially made to get familiar with each other's organizational structure, weapons, equipment and tactical drills. The Joint Drills included Room Intervention, Cordon and Search in Counter Terrorist Operations, Jungle Lane Shooting, Reflex Shooting, Long Range Firing and Cliff Assault Techniques. Subsequently, the training advanced to joint tactical exercises wherein the battle drills of both the armies were coherently unleashed. The commanders and staff officers of both sides were also exercised to work in close coordination to receive and collate intelligence and to issue suitable operational orders to the combined field training components, who executed these orders on ground in simulated realistic situation, in the Command Post Exercise covering all the planning aspects.
The field training culminated with a 48 hours consolidation and validation exercise in which troops of both countries carried out a daring rescue and destroy mission in the general area of Pilkholi near Chaubattia. Troops were inducted by helicopters into a notional hostile area in the heavily forested areas of Chaubattia, at heights ranging from 6000 feet to 7800 feet. It began with a march of approx 6 kilometers with complete battle loads of almost 30 kilograms on each soldier; where in the physical fitness of the soldiers of both nations was put to acid test. The tactical picture painted required both the contingents to carry out various tactical operations to include Raid and Cordon & Search operations. Emphasis was also laid on use of state of the art equipment for surveillance, tracking and identification of terrorists, use of specialist weapons for close quarter battles, sensing & neutralizing IEDs and establishing effective communication.
The validation exercise was reviewed by Maj Gen RK Raina, General Officer Commanding of a Division of the Indian Army and Maj Gen Thomas James, General Officer Commanding, 7 Infantry Division of the US Army. A host of dignitaries and number of Senior Officers of both the armies observed the validation exercise.The exercise was concluded with de-briefing by the contingent commanders and valuable suggestions by the senior reviewing officers of both sides, which would be recorded for implementation in the training by both armies.
Besides training, both the contingents also participated in a number of extracurricular activities including friendly football and basketball matches, visit to Nainital and a cultural programme during the "Barakhana" on the final day.
A magnificent parade and the customary exchange of mementoes marked the successful completion of Indo-US combined Army Exercise. Maj Gen RK Raina in his address during the closing ceremony congratulated both contingents on successful conduct of exercise. He stated that Indo – US friendship is steadily rising and the bonhomie shown by both contingents further reinforces it and paves the way for a strong and irrevocable strategic partnership. He also stated that both countries are faced with similar challenges from the divisive forces of extremism and international terrorism. The synergy achieved would enable us to operate together, if the need arises.
Maj Gen Thomas James of US Army in his address stated that our army to army relationship has never been stronger and this exercise provides us a great way to build upon that strong relationship, by enhancing interoperability, strengthening cooperation and increasing readiness. He also expressed the view that this strong bond is important to regional growth and stability and getting to know each other creates the trust that is critical to bilateral combined operations.
The combined exercise was undoubtedly, an unprecedented success. Besides promoting understanding and interoperability between the two armies, it further helped in strengthening ties between India and US.
- Col Rohan Anand with
Gp Capt BB Pande and
Gargi Malik Sinha