|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Indo-US forces conduct joint exercise
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | May 02, 2003 23:20 IST
Special forces from India and the United States have carried out a three-week joint exercise in the forests of Mizoram.
The exercise, which got over on April 26, was held at the Indian Army's Counter-Insurgency Jungle Warfare School at Vairengate.
Named Balance Iroquois 03-1/Vajra Prahar, the exercise involved 21 American soldiers and an Indian assault team. All exercises between the special forces of the two sides have been codenamed Balance Iroquois.
The training was in three phases: Avgat, Shagufa and Brahmastra. In the last stage, a joint action group of the two forces overcame a simulated hostage situation, an army officer said.
An American embassy spokesman said, "The intense exercise, conducted in an extremely rugged and physically challenging environment, involved training in counterinsurgency marksmanship, heliborne and airborne training, modus operandi of militants, movement and communication in jungles, patrolling, ambush, jungle survival, raids, intelligence operations and hostage rescue."
The participants spent their free time with villagers, playing guitars, handing out candy and helping them in other small ways.
Indian and American soldiers learned much from each other and reached a new level in military cooperation and camaraderie, demonstrating the interoperability of the forces over an extended period of time, the spokesman said.
The exercise ended with a mass airdrop from An-32s, using Indian Army parachutes.
The US will host the next Balance Iroquois for Indian special forces in Guam in June, the embassy spokesman said.
The Mizoram exercise was the most advanced that the two sides have conducted so far. The previous ones were limited to familiarisation and basic exercises.
The special forces have been at the forefront of the evolving Indo-US defence relations. India plans to equip its special forces with American equipment. The Americans believe that Indian special forces with US equipment will make interoperability smoother.