After the massive Malabar naval war-games+ with Japan in the Bay of Bengal last month, which had China firmly in the crosshairs, India and the US are now once again getting set to conduct the ”Yudh Abhyas” joint Military drill between their armies in September.
India and the US are steadily cranking up the scope, complexity and frequency of their bilateral military drill as part of their ” strategic partnership and convergence+ “, even though New Delhi is as yet unwilling to join any formal tri-lateral or quadrilateral security axis to counter China’s aggressiveness and expansionism in the Asia-Pacific region.
Incidentally, the US departments of defence and state, in a recent joint report to their Congress, said, “We see a growing convergence with India on our strategic outlook for the region, and we view India as an increasingly important regional security partner within and beyond the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”
This came soon after PM Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump vowed to further strengthen the already expansive India-US strategic ties in June, ensuring there were no stark departures from the previous Obama and Bush regimes.
“There were certainly some apprehensions. But there are a lot of fundamentals in place to keep the bilateral defence and security cooperation on an upward trajectory,” said a senior official.
The finalisation of the Yudh Abhyas exercise, which will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the US from September 14 to 27, of course, also comes at a time when India and China remain locked in a tense troop stand-off near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction.
Over 200 Indian soldiers from the Gorkha Rifleswill take part in the “battalion-level field training exercise with a brigade-level command post” under Yudh Abhyas, which the two countries now want to upgrade to “a more complex, combined arms, division-level exercise”. “The exercise will further boost the interoperability between the two armies at the battalion and company level. It will also help the Indian Army understand the doctrines, battle drills and procedures of the US Army,” said an officer.