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India, US to hold joint military exercise in 2013

November 01, 2012 11:53 IST

As many as 400 Indian Army soldiers would arrive at Fort Bragg -- home to airborne and special operations forces -- in the United States next year, to hold a joint annual military exercise.

The fort-night long "Yudh Abhyas" from May 3 to 17 is an exchange of combat units between the two countries -- with each of them hosting it every alternate year.

Some 400 American soldiers would attend the joint exercise.

The purpose of the exercise will be bilateral operations, the exchange of ideas and developing the ability to work side by side, Lt Gen Francis J Wiercinski, the commanding general of US Army Pacific in Hawaii, told The Fayetteville Observer in a recent interview.

"Last year, we had a Stryker unit in India with the Indians," he said.

The US soldiers worked with an Indian mounted cavalry unit.

"It was almost seamless, like they had been working together for years," he added.

"They've done competitions -- squad, platoon. It's a pretty  good exercise. It's evolving every year. Now at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division, I think it will be a tremendous opportunity," the top US military leader said.

Wiercinski said most of the time they have been doing the joint exercise in the Pacific.

"We wanted to give them a different flavor and a different location, and Fort Bragg was kind enough to offer it up," he added.

Soldiers from the 18th Airborne Corps and California National Guard also will participate, the newspaper said.

Observing that the US has a "budding relationship" with India, Wiercisnki said.

"For years, we did not work together. Now, we are re-establishing a relationship. It's a very good relationship. They have a tremendously professional army, a lot of the same equipment.

"The two armies could be called upon to work together in the future, he told The Fayetteville Observer. We're not looking for missions," he said.

"What we are looking for is just cooperation and exchange and making sure we understand each other and keeping the dialogue and the engagement open," he added

Wiercinski asserted that the India-US joint military exercise will have no impact on US relations with Pakistan.

"They know about our exercises. We have a relationship with Pakistan. We have a relationship with India," he added.

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