India-US military exercise ends in US

New Delhi: The India-US ‘Yudh Abhyas’ joint military exercise that focused on counter-insurgency drills and counter-terror operations, has concluded in the US, official sources said on Thursday.

The exercise concluded at Joint Base Lewis Mc-Chord in Washington State on Wednesday amid a visit by US Defence Secretary James Mattis to New Delhi on September 26-27 during which the two countries discussed a larger role for India in Afghanistan.

The exercise — held from September 14-27 — focused on specialised drills and procedures involved in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations in an urban environment, an official statement said.

The initial days of field training comprised platoon-level training on basic manoeuvres, which then progressed towards company-level operations. Helicopter-based mobilisation of teams for quick response was also practised.

“The two Armies have gained from each other’s expertise and experience in the conduct of platoon- and company-level operations. In addition, the Indian contingent got first-hand experience of operating with the ‘Stryker’ Infantry Combat Vehicle and the US Army gained an insight on the training of an infantry unit in a mountainous terrain,” the statement said.

The statement said the closing ceremony showcased the “flourishing partnership between the two nations”.

“Exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas 2017′ achieved all joint training objectives and this shall further reinforce defence cooperation between the two nations.”

While India clarified it will not send troops to Afghanistan, the two sides during Mattis’ visit discussed a larger role for India to help restore normalcy in the war-torn country.

The joint exercise also found mention by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a joint press conference she held with Mattis.