U.S.-India Exercise Exemplifies Growing Cooperation

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2010 — U.S. Army ele­ments in Alas­ka are prepar­ing to host India’s army for the next in a series of annu­al field engage­ments that aim to improve bilat­er­al readi­ness and coop­er­a­tion while demon­strat­ing U.S. com­mit­ment to South Asia and the broad­er Asia-Pacif­ic region, the U.S. Army Pacif­ic com­man­der told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ben­jamin R. Mixon called the Yudh Abhyas exer­cise to be held next month on Joint Base Elmen­dorf-Richard­son an exam­ple of the grow­ing the­ater secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion pro­gram under way through­out the region that’s extend­ing far beyond his­tor­i­cal alliances.

Last year alone, U.S. Army Pacif­ic con­duct­ed 214 of these events in 29 coun­tries – rang­ing from the Army’s largest multi­na­tion­al exer­cise, involv­ing 12,000 par­tic­i­pants, to small staff-offi­cer exchanges.

While rein­forc­ing mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ships with long­time part­ners in the region such as South Korea, Japan, Thai­land, the Philip­pines and Aus­tralia, Mixon said the com­mand is increas­ing­ly engag­ing with oth­er strate­gi­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant nations. These include Indone­sia and Malaysia, impor­tant mod­er­ate Mus­lim nations, as well as India.

Dur­ing Yudh Abhyas 2010, the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Com­bat Team “Spar­tans” will join their Indi­an coun­ter­parts in air­borne and weapons exchanges and a brigade-lev­el com­mand post exer­cise.

“It’s going to be a great exer­cise,” Mixon said.

The train­ing will build on last year’s Yudh Abhyas exer­cise, the U.S. and Indi­an armies’ largest joint mil­i­tary exer­cise ever, which also includ­ed the largest deploy­ment of Stryk­er armored vehi­cles out­side a com­bat zone. About 300 U.S. sol­diers from the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Squadron, 14th Cav­al­ry Reg­i­ment, deployed from Hawaii with 18 Stryk­ers to train with the Indi­an army’s 7th Mech­a­nized Infantry Bat­tal­ion at one of India’s pre­mier mil­i­tary train­ing sites.

These and sim­i­lar engage­ments, Mixon said, are key build­ing blocks in sup­port­ing a region­al secu­ri­ty frame­work.

“The impor­tance of the Asia-Pacif­ic region is obvi­ous to every­body,” he said. “So across the board, hav­ing a U.S. pres­ence on the ground in the Asia-Pacif­ic region enhances peace and sta­bil­i­ty in the area.”

It also pre­pares the U.S. and part­ner mil­i­taries that could be called on with lit­tle notice to coop­er­a­tive­ly sup­port mis­sions rang­ing from human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and dis­as­ter relief to peace­keep­ing.

“It pre­pares us if there are con­tin­gen­cies,” Mixon said. “We have already built some very, very impor­tant rela­tion­ships that make oper­a­tions go a lot bet­ter when they first begin.” Mixon has pre­sent­ed Army lead­ers with a long-range plan to improve train­ing areas with­in U.S. Army Pacif­ic. The plan, if approved, will enhance capa­bil­i­ties and save dol­lars spent deploy­ing Pacif­ic-based U.S. units else­where for train­ing, he said. But it will also offer U.S. Army Pacif­ic new oppor­tu­ni­ties to host region­al part­ners for mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary train­ing such as Yudh Abhyas 2010.

Mean­while, Mixon is empha­siz­ing the impor­tance of cul­tur­al “astute­ness” among his troops.

Rec­og­niz­ing the “hun­dreds and hun­dreds of lan­guages and dialects and cul­tures” with­in Asia and the Pacif­ic, he rec­og­nizes it’s all but impos­si­ble for his sol­diers to mas­ter the lin­guis­tic chal­lenges the region presents. What he wants is for his sol­diers to be will­ing to learn enough of a giv­en lan­guage to show respect for the cul­tures of the peo­ple they engage with, and the curios­i­ty to take that learn­ing to the next lev­el.

“By doing that, they become astute in how to oper­ate in that par­tic­u­lar coun­try,” he said.

Mixon not­ed how many of his sol­diers eas­i­ly adapt­ed as they shift­ed from one cul­ture to anoth­er dur­ing exer­cis­es last year in Thai­land and the Philip­pines. “That is what we want our sol­diers to be able to do,” he said.

As these efforts con­tin­ue, U.S. Army Pacif­ic is under­go­ing an inter­nal reor­ga­ni­za­tion that will improve its abil­i­ty to sup­port a oper­a­tions in one of its key focus areas, the Kore­an penin­su­la. That ini­tia­tive, called Pacif­ic Inte­gra­tion, involves fold­ing 8th U.S. Army in Korea into U.S. Army Pacif­ic by next year. Eighth Army already has reor­ga­nized as the Army’s only field army, poised on the Kore­an penin­su­la to fight along­side its South Kore­an coun­ter­parts, if required.

U.S. Army Pacif­ic will pro­vide enabling capa­bil­i­ties for 8th Army, along with oth­er Army units through­out the region.

Estab­lish­ing a sin­gle Army ser­vice com­po­nent in the Pacif­ic will elim­i­nate redun­dan­cies and pro­vide a more effi­cient, more capa­ble force, Mixon said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter