Bilateral military exercises and defence exchanges are an important facet of deepening bilateral defence cooperation between friendly countries
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
The 13th edition of India-US joint Special Forces exercise 'Vajra Prahar' kicked off at the Special Forces Training School at Bakloh in Himachal Pradesh on August 8, 2022. The exercise will continue till August 28. Vajra is the weapon of Lord Indra, described in Hindu mythology. It is considered the most powerful weapon in the universe, the use of which is a thunderbolt accompanied with massive lightening – nuclear?
The joint Special Forces military exercise Vajra Prahar between India and the US commenced in 2010. This Special Forces joint training exercise is conducted alternately in India and the US to share the best practices and experiences in areas such as joint mission planning and operational tactics, as also to improve interoperability between the Special Forces of both nations. Bilateral military exercises and defence exchanges are an important facet of deepening bilateral defence cooperation between friendly countries.Armies of participating nations jointly train, plan and execute a series of operations for neutralisation of threats of varied nature with a common aim of countering threats of international terrorism through mutual training and jointness.
The ongoing 13th edition of Vajra Prahar aims at sharing experiences and best practices in mission planning and operational tactics of Special Forces operations
The ongoing 13th edition of Vajra Prahar aims at sharing experiences and best practices in mission planning and operational tactics of Special Forces operations. The exercise will see the two Special Forces contingents jointly train, plan and execute a series of special operations involving counter-terrorism drills and airborne operations in simulated conventional and unconventional scenarios in mountainous terrain. Participation from the US side includes personnel from the 1st Special Forces Group (SFG) and from the Special Tactics Squadron. The Indian contingent comprises personnel from the Para-SF battalions.
Exercise 'Vajra Prahar' will be followed by a much larger Indo-US joint exercise being planned to be conducted from October 14 to October 31 this year. This will be the 15th edition of Exercise 'Yudh Abhyas' - a two-week long exercise in high altitude at Auli in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand, less than 100 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Central Sector. Auli is famous as a skiing paradise. The exercise will be held at an altitude of 10,000 feet, which is where Stage 1 of acclimatisation is held for troops deployed in forward posts at high altitude in the Central Sector.
This edition of Exercise Yudh Abhyas will witness greater integration of air and ground assets, with the IAF also playing a key role. The Indian and American contingents will undertake maneuvers to exploit the full scope of high-altitude warfare over two weeks, and to see how the Indian and US troops can operate together. According to a defence source, "This time it is a very important exercise because the Indian side will be showcasing their high-altitude warfare strategies, while the Americans will be showcasing a number of technologies that can be used in such scenarios. This exercise has been planned in such a way that both sides can come together for any scenario."
China has consolidated its defence in the intrusion areas it occupied in Eastern Ladakh during 2020. Moreover, tensions between the US and China have reached an all time high because of the recent visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives. China is in a belligerent mood with the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party coming up in second half of 2022 and President Xi Jinping seeking a third term, plus rumours he may be anointed "People's President". Chinese actions, therefore, will continue to remain unpredictable.
This edition of Exercise Yudh Abhyas will witness greater integration of air and ground assets, with the IAF also playing a key role. The Indian and American contingents will undertake maneuvers to exploit the full scope of high-altitude warfare over two weeks.
India has been holding joint exercise with foreign armies periodically, some in Ladakh and now the Yudh Abhyas is planned in Uttarakhand. It is high time India holds such exercises also in Arunachal Pradesh closer to the LAC – say on the Tawang Plateau since China illegally claims entire Arunachal Pradesh. We should not be bothered about the distance from the LAC where the exercise is held. China is flying its fighter jets close to the LAC in deliberate violation of the no-flying agreement in the 10-km belt. China was also exercising over Pangong Tso with attack helicopters concurrent to the last Corps Commander-level talks over the standoff in Eastern Ladakh. We need to call the Chinese bluff and keep sending equally forceful signals.
This is the first time ever that a US Navy ship is undergoing repairs in India under the India-US strategic partnership
On August 7, 2022, US Navy Ship (USNS) Charles Drew arrived at L&T's Shipyard at Kattupalli, Chennai for undertaking repairs and allied services. This is after the US Navy had awarded a contract to the L&T Shipyard, Kattupalli for undertaking maintenance of the ship.This is the first time ever that a US Navy ship is undergoing repairs in India under the India-US strategic partnership. Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral S.N. Ghormade, Flag Officer Commanding Tamil Nadu & Puducherry Naval Area Rear Admiral S Venkat Raman and other senior officials of Ministry of Defence (MoD) visited the shipyard to welcome the vessel. The US Consul General in Chennai, Judith Ravin and Defence Attaché at the US Embassy in Delhi, and Rear Admiral Michael Baker were also present.
Terming the event as a red-letter day for the Indian shipbuilding industry and the India-US defence relationship, Ajay Kumar said, "We are indeed pleased to welcome the US Naval Ship Charles Drew to India, for making her voyage ready. India's initiative also assumes special significance in furthering the strategic partnership between India and the US. It marks the beginning of a new chapter for deeper engagements." USNS Charles Drew will be at Kattupalli shipyard for a period of 11 days for undergoingvarious repairs.