At Camp Bundela, barely five kilometres from the Indian Army’s Babina firing ranges in Uttar Pradesh, Sergeant Donald Jeik of the US army is enjoying a game of pool with an unlikely partner, an Indian soldier who has just developed fancy for the cue.
The 29-year-old mortar man, assigned to 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, is one of the 300 American soldiers who have come from Hawaii to take part in Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2009, an annual Indo-US military drill from October 12-29.
More than 1,000 soldiers are taking part in the war games, aimed at promoting cooperation between the two militaries while sharing training, cultural exchanges, and building joint operating skills.
This year’s Yudh Abhyas features 17 Stryker vehicles— the largest deployment of these armoured combat vehicles outside of Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Monday, the two armies showed what they could achieve together as they went about the business of enforcing peace in a fictitious country (called Karera) torn apart by terrorism. Its neighbours were exporting its miseries.
The exercise involved T-90, combat vehicles, anti-tank missiles, US army’s mini UAVs and live firing of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles.
Lieutenant General A S Sekhon, the army’s director general of military operations said India had a lot to learn from the US experience — especially in the field of technology — in Afghanistan and Iraq.