The United States Army and Indian Army began the 15th iteration of the bilateral U.S.-India Yudh Abhyas military exercise on Friday. An opening ceremony for the exercise took place at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the U.S. state of Washington. The exercise will run through September 18.
“Nothing could be more important over the past 15 years of us working together than us preparing for war together. It started with platoons and companies conducting basic battle drills and today there are over 700 Soldiers participating in this exercise,” the U.S. Army’s 7th Infantry Division Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson, said in remarks during the opening ceremony.
“We know our Soldiers are better after they train together,” Brunson added. “Both of our armies have gained a wealth of knowledge on how to fight in complex terrain all over the world. We have many lessons to share with each other. Coming together today gives us the opportunity.”
Yudh Abhyas takes place annually and rotates between India and the United States. Last year, the Indian Army hosted U.S. troops at Chaubattia Military Station, in the foothills of the Himalayas.
“Exercise Yudh Abhyas will provide an opportunity to the armed forces of both countries to train in an integrated manner at Battalion level with joint planning at Brigade level,” an Indian Army press released noted. It added that this year’s exercise would feature multiple scenarios “with a view to understand each other’s organisational structure and battle procedures.”
“Both armies will jointly train, plan and execute a series of well developed operations for neutralization of threats of varied nature,” the Indian release noted. “ln the end a joint exercise will be undertaken by both countries in an operational setting under a UN mandate,” it added.
The relationship between the United States and India has converged considerably over the last decade. Military cooperation between the two countries has grown as a result.
Last September, the United States and India operationalized the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), a foundational agreement facilitating mutual logistics support between the two sides. India has also concluded a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the United States, which facilitates the sharing of secure information through encrypted means.
Aside from Yudh Abhyas, the two countries conduct other major exercises, including the Malabar naval exercise. Since 2015, Malabar has been trilateralized to include, Japan, an Indian strategic partner and U.S. treaty ally.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s recently released Indo-Pacific Strategy Report emphasizes a central role for India in U.S. Asia strategy.
“DoD and the Indian Ministry of Defence are increasing the scope, complexity, and frequency of our military exercises,” that document observed.