Washington, May 15: Can Indian and American troops join hands to carry out a successful peacekeeping mission in a third country to rescue innocent civilians, whose lives are threatened either by their own regime or armed opposition?
This is precisely what the armed forces from India and the United States are currently doing in North Carolina as part of their annual ‘Yudh Abhyas', a Hindi term which literally means “training for war”.
“This is the largest of events that has happened here,” Lt Col Phil Sounia, Commander, 3rd Squadron 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, told PTI in an interview.
Nearly 200 Indian armed forces personnel from the 5th Gurkha Rifles are here to attend the military exercise, while there are more than 400 from the host nation.
“It is building relationship,” Sounia said. So that the two countries are ready when required to perform such a duty, he added.
“We want to build the trust necessary for such kind of operations,” he said.
Sharing their respective experiences, the two armies - for this exercise - are evolving a joint plan for an imaginary United Nations operation in a fictional area for a UN peacekeeping mission.
While the Indian Army is enriched by its experience in militancy hit Jammu & Kashmir and the various UN peacekeeping operations, and American troops are enriched by their experience in war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq.
Under this exercise, the Indian paratroopers with the 50 Independent Para Brigade accompanying the Gurkhas will jump into the hostile territory with American paratroopers. The Gurkhas will arrive by helicopter.
Artillery, mortars and other heavy weapons will play roles in the script.
The joint exercise which began on May 3 will conclude on May 17.
“What we are doing is that there is a country which the UN is supporting. There is timeline in providing supplies to the local population before the extremist elements enter,” Sounia said explaining the scenario of the joint exercise.
During the exercise, the two armies not only ensure essential supplies to the civilian population in a timely manner, but also help the local leaders in establishing some kind of governance structure.
“We will be an unbiased force. We are protecting the population while the political process will continue, instead of enforcing a political decision on them,” he said.
“It is an honor to work with them (Indians),” Sounia said, sharing his experience of working with the Indian troops, whom he said are the best in the world of which any country can be proud of.
He praised the Indian Army for its “incredible discipline” of the Gorkha battalion and the Indian officers who are here.
The US forces, he said, are also impressed by the knowledge they bring and their experience in such a combat situation.
“The level of detail they maintain at the individual level is second to none,” he said.
“India and the United States are global partners with global responsibilities, and when contingencies emerge, we can only operate at the speed of trust. We are building that trust right here, right now, with two of the most competent and experienced armies in the world,” Sounia said.