The Indian Army will conduct a joint company-level field training exercise, Yudh Abhyas with the US Army at the Mahajan field firing ranges in Rajasthan desert in March 2012.

The bilateral exercise is the first in a series of military-to-military drills scheduled for this year and will see the first ever participation by US Army tanks alongside the Indian BMP amphibious infantry fighting vehicles. Around 200 US Army personnel will participate in the current exercise; the names of the tanks have not been revealed.

Undertaken by the Indian Army and the US Army Pacific Command (US ARPAC), the exercise demonstrates operational readiness of the two forces for future joint counter-insurgency and anti-terror operations. The last round of wargames conducted in 2009 involved the Indian Army’s Russian-made T-90S tanks and BMP-II infantry fighting vehicles, anti-tank missiles, combat vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) alongside US Stryker armoured personnel carriers (APCs).

The exercise aimed to neutralise armed insurgents and terrorists by using the firepower of armoured vehicles in a semi-urban setting, as well as for peace-enforcement. Following completion of Yudh Abhyas, 130 infantry troops from the 19 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles regiment will participate in a joint counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism drill called Shatrujeet in April 2012 in California, US.

About 60 US Special Forces troops and the Indian Army’s 3 Para (Special Forces) will also test their skills in a mountain exercise codenamed Vajra Prahar to be held in Chaubatia, Uttarakhand, India, in August 2012. The Indian and US Navies are also scheduled to conduct bilateral exercises this year.

Image: The Indian Army is to deploy BMP amphibious infantry fighting vehicles during the joint Indo-US exercise Yudh Abhyas. Photo: Unknown (US DoD Photos).