In an attempt to keep China on its toes, India and the United States of America are set to hold a high-altitude military exercise at a height of 9,000-10,000 feet later this year in October. The exercise, which will be entering its 15th year and is termed ‘Yudh Abhyas’ was held in Alaska last year. US Army Pacific Commanding General Charles Flynn who is on a visit to India currently has called the exercise a way to increase interoperability, jointness and readiness of the forces.
Talking about the Chinese threat in the region, Gen Charles said, “When I sort of look back on what the CPC (Communist Party of China) and the PRC (People’s Republic of China) were doing, compared to what they are doing today, they have taken an incremental and insidious path and destabilizing and corrosive behaviours that they project into the region are simply not helpful.”
The US wants to learn the Indian Army’s mountain warfare
While at the outset it may appear that the US is attempting to join forces with India and help it in the conflict with China, the reality is starkly different. There is no beating around the bush that India has the best, largest and the most well-trained army personnel when it comes to mountain warfare. The US simply wants to learn high-altitude warfare in the guise of joint drills.
Such has been the reputation of India’s high-altitude defence and offence that even the Chinese have been forced to accept the reality and wax lyrical about it. Reportedly, Huang Guozhi, senior editor of Modern Weaponry magazine, in the aftermath of Galwan remarked that India had the most sophisticated armed forces for mountain warfare.
Guozhi wrote, “At present, the world’s largest and experienced country with plateau and mountain troops is neither the US, Russia, nor any European powerhouse, but India,…”
It is pertinent to note that Modern Weaponry magazine is considered a comprehensive military and defence journal. It is affiliated with the state-owned China North Industries Group Corporation Limited (NORINCO), which describes itself as “the main platform responsible for developing mechanised, digitised and intellectualised equipment for PLA”. Thus, Guozhi was indirectly speaking the tongue of the PLA troops.
Indian troops and their mountain training
Mountaineering is an indispensable part of almost every soldier of the Indian mountain division. India guards the highest battlefield in the world in Siachen. Only the cream of the crop is deployed in such hostile conditions. And yet, year after year, such brave hearts are chiselled with utmost perfection by the army. For the majority of the soldiers, the mountains are their second home, with few knowing the ins and outs of the region like the back of their hands.
As reported by TFI, it was India’s secretive Special Frontier Force (SFF) that pre-empted Chinese strikes in the region and put the PLA troops in their place. Being fully aware of the local terrains and already accustomed to the environment, it was SFF that made China crawl back in its burrow hole.
Strictly speaking, the SFF units are not part of the Army but they function under the operational control of the Army. The units have their own rank structures which have equivalent status to Army ranks. However, they are highly trained special forces personnel who can undertake a variety of tasks that would normally be performed by any special forces unit.
Read More: There is no country in the world that can take on Indians in mountain warfare
America and its special forces may be better equipped in other areas but in mountain warfare, they are no match for the Indian troops. Hence, through the joint training, America is attempting to impart to its troops, some of the skills of the trade. However, it may still not be enough as years of training cannot be taught in a few days.
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