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Yudh Abhyas Exercise History|
By Dave Hilkert
Since its inception in January of 2001, Yudh Abhyas,—Hindi for "training for war"—has provided combined U.S./Indian Army training and promoted positive U.S./India military to military relations. The training events have included interoperability training and situational training exercises.
A U.S. Army, Pacific-sponsored Theater Security Cooperation Program exercise since 2004, Yudh Abhyas originally consisted of infantry company-level field training exercises with battalion staff planning. Over the first few years, the exercise was conducted semi-annually; one exercise in India and the second, a reciprocal exercise within the U.S.
The first USARPAC Yudh Abhyas commenced on March 27, 2004. During this premier exercise, Indian Army and U.S. Army and National Guard Soldiers trained together deep in the jungles at the Counter Insurgency & Jungle Warfare School in the northeast state of Mizoram, India. The two forces shared experiences on tactics, techniques and procedures at the small unit level.
The 2004 Yudh Abhyas was unique in that most previous combined exercises with the Indian military were conducted with the U.S. Air Force and Navy. It was also the second Indian-U.S. Army exercise at the CIJWS. Up until that exercise, only U.S. Army Special Forces trained at the CIJWS. Yudh Abhyas 04 was the first conventional Army-to-Army training in India since 1962.
During Yudh Abhyas 04, the two forces focused on basic infantry skills, including individual marksmanship, reflexive firing, battle drills, ambush, patrolling, a fast roping technique called "slithering," and land navigation and survival in the jungle. The Soldiers from both nations also focused on dealing with terrorists and insurgents, including interrogation techniques and identifying improvised explosive devices. The Indian-U.S. troops learned the tactics of counterinsurgents as well as terrorists.
To enhance interoperability, the units created two-man teams with one Indian Soldier and one U.S. Soldier throughout the squads and companies. This opportunity extended to the military leadership, including company commanders and platoon and squad leaders.
The U.S. forces shared with the Indian troops U.S. doctrine and procedures, squad battle drills, platoon battle drills, tactics on ambushes, Military operations in urban terrain, and how the U.S. Army conducts mission planning and company-level operations. This first iteration of Yudh Abhyas concluded on April 10, 2004. The second iteration of Yudh Abhyas was scheduled for July 12-31, 2004, when Indian troops were to train with U.S. troops at a U.S. Pacific Command installation in Hawaii.
Yudh Abhyas 05-01 was conducted on Sept. 14-18, 2005 in India. The platoon level infantry exercise involved more than 50 Soldiers—27 from 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry, Guam Army National Guard, and 15 from 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry (Wolfhounds), 25th Infantry Division. There were 42 soldiers from India's 22nd Maratha Light Infantry. The U.S. Soldiers learned counterinsurgency and jungle warfare operations in northeast India. A primary purpose of 05-01's bilateral training was to have the Indian Army present the Guam and Hawaii Soldiers with skills needed to defeat insurgents. The Indian Army, given their experience of over ten years in fighting an insurgency, was able to offer the U.S. Army many invaluable lessons learned on counterinsurgency and jungle warfare.
The training occurred in the hilly jungles of Mizoram in the small village of Vairengte, home to The Indian Army Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare School. Some of the operations included patrolling, ambushes, tracking, search and destroy missions, convoy protection and military operations in urban terrain. The Yudh Abhyas training focused on diverse individual tasks as well as team- and squad-level tactics. From Sept. 12 to 29, CIJWS was the training site for the joint U.S. and Indian Army exercise.
Each unit involved was able to learn from one another's recent combat experience. The Wolfhounds redeployed in March following 12 months in Afghanistan; the Guam Army National Guard Soldiers were deployed for a year in the Horn of Africa; and the 22nd Maratha Light had been continuously rotated through India's various troubled areas impacted by insurgency. To accomplish cohesiveness, all three units were broken down and reconfigured into two platoons composed of elements from all three separate units. The platoons were then put through a condensed 17 day version of the six-week Counterinsurgency Jungle Warfare Course.
Yudh Abhyas 05-02 was conducted Sept. 5-20, 2005 in Alaska. The Indian Army deployed 37 Indian Army paratroopers (a platoon minus a scout section) to Fort Richardson, where the Soldiers were integrated into a battalion level airborne infantry exercise with the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. On Sept. 9, they conducted a combined airfield seizure of Ladd Field at Fort Wainwright, followed by a force-on-force tactical mission to seize the Combined Arms Training Facility. Following this, the IA contingent trained through Sept. 17 with the 1st Battalion, 501st PIR, during the unit's off-post training event at Fort Wainwright. Training included demolitions, marksmanship, Military Operations on Urban Terrain, and scout training. The IA redeployed to Fort Richardson Sept. 18 and departed Alaska Sept. 20.
Photos from 05-01:
The 3rd Brigade Combat Team deployed Company C with a Battalion Command and Control element (2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment (minus)) to India in support of Yudh Abhyas 06-01 from Jan. 13-28, 2006. About 111 Soldiers from the regiment participated in the exercise. The training focus was to conduct a squad Live Fire Exercise under night conditions and MOUT training at the platoon level.
On Jan. 11th, the U.S. Soldiers arrived in New Delhi, India to experience the warm hospitality of their Indian military partners from the 11th Sikh Regiment, just before the exercise kicked off. During their two-day stay in New Delhi, the U.S. Soldiers were housed in a two-story barracks temporarily vacated by Sikh soldiers and dined on cuisine prepared by Sikh cooks. A cultural tour in the Indian capital city also provided the U.S. Soldiers a close look at the nation's government, as well as the New Delhi commercial and historic districts.
The exercise consisted of ten training days divided into two phases.
Phase One included physical conditioning, an exchange of weapons' systems and equipment information, and basic live-fire shooting exercises.
Phase Two comprised of an advanced live-fire stage. It consisted of jungle lane and room shooting, the establishment of perimeter control and house searches, and the occupation of a company operating base. Soldiers occupied and protected the COB, conducted night patrols and set up security checkpoints.
Three weeks later, on Jan. 26, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Regiment wrapped up its high elevation training, conducted at the base of the Himalaya Mountains.
YA 06-02 included Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division and 3rd Battalion, 9th Gorkha Rifles, Indian Army, and was conducted from Sept. 5-29, 2006 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. The exercise had the participation of about 140 members of the Indian Army and Air Force, who reported to Schofield Barracks, Sept. 6, for the largest Yudh Abhyas bilateral training exercise to date.
During the training, 40 Indian soldiers descended on a mock village in the Oahu mountains to hunt for insurgents, as they were watched by U.S. Army officers looking for lessons they could apply when leading their units through the same exercise.
During Exercise Yudh Abhyas 07-01, Soldiers from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, trained with Indian soldiers from 4th Rajput, Indian Army from Sept. 9-24. The exercise consisted of a combat tactics and cultural exchange at the Donnelly Training Area, Fort Wainwright, Alaska. The Soldiers trained together, often in 45-degree temperatures, high winds and rain, to promote team-building, combat readiness and cultural awareness on a platoon through battalion level.
During Yudh Abhyas 07-02, more than 120 Soldiers from Fort Wainwright, Alaska trained in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains with their Indian counterparts
The Soldiers from C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment ("Gimlets"), 25th Infantry Division, trained with 2nd Battalion, 5th Group, 5th Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) in India until mid-November.
The Soldiers spent approximately one week in a cantonment area before relocating and conducting a field training exercise. During this initial training, the Gorkha Soldiers conducted classes to familiarize their U.S. counterparts with how the 5th Gorkha Rifles conduct searches, raids and other counter insurgency activities in a low-intensity insurgency. The Gimlets demonstrated for their hosts how the U.S. Army handles deliberate attacks and other standard infantry operations in high-intensity insurgency environments. The FTX trained Soldiers on various low-intensity, counter-insurgent actions, such as raids, civic assistance missions and quick reaction team operations.
The Alaska training took place at an altitude of more than 6,500 feet and was physically demanding. To help adjust to the rigorous challenges of the high altitude, the U.S. Soldiers played organized sports with the Indian Soldiers: soccer, basketball, volleyball and team handball (a hybrid game of soccer and football). In addition to the standard military training and exercise, the Gorkha Soldiers conducted morning yoga sessions, led by master yoga instructors, with their American counterparts.
Yudh Abhyas 2008 was conducted at Fort Shafter Flats, Hawaii, Oct. 24 – Nov 5. Soldiers from the Army Reserve's 9th Mission Support Command and the California Army National Guard's 40th Infantry Brigade Combat Team took part in this year's only Yudh Abhyas exercise, a two-week joint military exercise conducted with the Indian Army's 49th Brigade.
The 2008 Yudh Abhyas was the culmination of a five-year platoon, company, battalion, and brigade series of bi-lateral exercises with the Indian Army. Given the deployment of the 25th Infantry Division to Iraq, the 9th MSC was tasked to be the executive agent or lead agency.
Yudh Abhyas 2009 took place from Oct. 12-29, at Babina, Uttar Pradesh, India. The exercise included a multi-echelon, full spectrum combined operation focused on a U.N. Peacekeeping Operation scenario, while executing a maneuver live-fire exercise. The 2009 Yudh Abhyas featured 17 Stryker vehicles and composed the largest deployment of the vehicles outside of Iraq and Afghanistan for U.S. Army, Pacific forces. In addition to the 17 Strykers, the U.S. included the Javelin Anti-Tank Missile system in Yudh Abhyas 2009, a system employed to defeat current and future threat armored combat vehicles.
Armored vehicles the Indian Army used during the exercise included: the BMP (Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty)—a former Soviet amphibious infantry fighting vehicle, and the T-90—the Russian Main Battle Tank. Soldiers from both Armies were embedded with one another for a number of missions and had numerous opportunities to train with the other army's equipment.
YA 2009 was a landmark exercise for the Indian army as the largest number of Indian troops involved with any foreign army and overall, the largest exercise since the joint venture began in 2004. Soldiers from the Indian Army's 7th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, 94th Armored Brigade, 31st Armored Division, partnered with U.S. Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry regiment, "Strykehorse," 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
During the two-week event, Soldiers had an exchange of staff organizational tactics related to peace operations at various levels. The participants engaged in a variety of missions, including: joint planning and execution; ranges involving Soldiers mounted and dismounted in vehicles; cordon and search operations; and search and rescue training.
1 A Sikh (English pronunciation: si:k) is a follower of Sikhism which primarily originated in the 15th century Punjab region of India. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term meaning "disciple, student." It is common for Indian units to be organized by religious faith. In 2006, the 11th Sikh Regiment was comprised of approximately 800 Soldiers.
2 Room shooting exercises integrate target identification, good leadership skills, team tactics and confidence.
For Yudh Abhyas 2009 stories, pictures and videos, click here.