Yudh Abhyas 04
[BR Note: Operation Yudh Abhyas 04-01 commenced on 27 March 2004 and was concluded on 10 April 2004]
By Staff Sergeant Robyn Baer, US Army and Sergeant Ken Denny, US Army
Deep in the jungles, Indian Army soldiers and U.S. Army and National Guard soldiers trained together in Operation Yudh Abhyas 04 at the Counter Insurgency & Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) in the northeast state of Mizoram, India, in early 2004. The two forces shared experiences on tactics, techniques, and procedures at the small unit level. Yudh Abhyas strengthens & broadens interoperability and cooperation between the Indian and U.S. armies. Yudh Abhyas is the second Indian-U.S. Army exercise at the CIJWS and complements a number of other exchanges and exercises between the two countries' forces. Until now, however, only U.S. Army Special Forces have trained at the CIJWS. Moreover, combined exercises with the Indian military in the past have been mostly with the U.S. Air Force and Navy. 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 & survival in the jungle. They 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 the counterinsurgents as well as terrorists. "We looked at what the terrorist does to camouflage himself within a civilian community, how to pick out the key signs of the differences between a civilian and an insurgent, what a terrorist looks like, and how to employ tactics to stop them," said U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Roger Willenborg. "The training reinforced the identification of insurgents and how to build rapport with the community and possibly turn some of the soft militants over to the friendly side," he said. To enhance interoperability, the units created two-man teams, one Indian soldier and one U.S. soldier, throughout the squads and companies. This was true for the military leaders, including company commanders and platoon and squad leaders.
Lieutenant Colonel David Wisecarver said the exercise was mutually beneficial. "In India they’ve been fighting insurgency and terrorism for more than 50 years, and they established the CIJWS in 1973," he said. "They have different tactics, techniques, and procedures that are unique to India because their conflict is internal. They instructed us on those techniques." U.S. Army Spec. Shaune Moore also commented on the Indian Army’s experience. "We got to talk to Indian soldiers who had been on the line fighting insurgency for a while, so we got some useful knowledge about their methods and what works for them," he said. "The hardest thing is that you have to treat every insurgent as if they were a civilian, because you can’t decipher the difference between a civilian and a terrorist," said U.S. Army Spec. Thomas Vanantwerp. "They all look the same, they all walk the same, and 90% of the time you’re not going to be able to see their weapon. It’s a very difficult task, and you’ve got to really pay attention to detail." He added that the troops were constantly challenged during the exercises, because they didn’t know where they were going, what their target looked like, how far they were to move, or what was around the next corner. 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 does mission planning and company-level operations. "The Indian troops looked at our equipment, our weapons systems, and they were very interested in those things," said Lieutenant Colonel Wisecarver. He also noted that the Indian troops worked with U.S. noncommissioned officers (NCOs), adding, "Other armies don’t have the NCO professional development we have in our Army. In other armies, I’ve trained with, the officers do almost everything. This was the first time [Indian troops] got to see how much we entrust to our NCOs." Brigadier B K Ponwar, Indian Army and Lieutenant Colonel David Wisecarver, U.S. Army presented a soccer ball to local children. The military-to-military relationship will continue later in 2004 when Indian troops are to train with U.S. troops at a U.S. Pacific Command installation in Hawaii.
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