The armies of India and the US on Tuesday began an over two-week mega military exercise at a military facility in Uttarakhand with the aim of exchanging best practices and tactics in sync with growing defence ties between the two countries.
The 'Yudh Abhyas' exercise began amid the 30-month border standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh.
The exercise is conducted annually between India and the US. The previous edition of the exercise was conducted at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska (the US) in October last year.
Officials said the 18th edition of the exercise began on Tuesday and will end in the first week of December.
US Army soldiers of second brigade of the 11th Airborne division and Indian Army soldiers from the Assam Regiment will be participating in the exercise.
The Army said the scope of the field training exercise includes validation of integrated battle groups, force multipliers, establishment and functioning of surveillance grids, validation of operational logistics and mountain warfare skills.
The exercise will involve exchanges and practices on a wide spectrum of combat skills including combat engineering, employment of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS and counter UAS techniques and information operations.
The Indian Army said the exercise will facilitate both Armies to share their wide experiences, skills and enhance their techniques through information exchange.
"The training schedule focuses on employment of an integrated battle group under Chapter VII of the UN Mandate. The schedule will include all operations related to peacekeeping and peace enforcement," it said in a statement.
"The troops from both nations will work together to achieve common objectives. The joint exercise will also focus on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. Troops from both nations will practice launching swift and coordinated relief efforts in the wake of any natural calamity," it said.
In order to derive full benefit from the professional skills and experiences of both the armies, a Command Post Exercise and Expert Academic Discussions (EAD) on carefully selected topics will be carried out.
Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.
In June 2016, the US designated India a "major defence partner", paving the way for sharing of critical military equipment and technology.
The two countries have also inked key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.
The two sides also signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 which provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.
In October 2020, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties.
The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries.