US, India to participate in annual military drill near China border: Reports
'Yudh Abhyas' will take place from October 18 to 31 at an altitude of 10,000 feet in Uttarakhand's Auli and will focus on high-altitude combat training.
Amid the ongoing tensions between China and the United States following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan, the US and India have decided to conduct a combat exercise in Uttarkhand, bordering China, this October, reported Nikkei Asia.
The military drill will take place from October 18 to 31 at an altitude of 10,000 feet in Uttarakhand's Auli and will focus on high-altitude combat training, the report, citing US Army Pacific, added.
While the annual joint exercise 'Yudh Abhyas' is not new, the location and timing for this year's drill are interesting, taking into consideration Beijing's unprecedented exercise surrounding Taiwan in the past several days.
US Army Pacific's Major Jonathan Lewis, who handles public affairs, told Nikkei Asia that the strategy for this year's exercise focuses on cold-weather operations, and at high-altitude, an environment that poses distinct challenges.
Auli is about 95 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the disputed border between India and China. The drills will take place as part of the 18th edition of an annual joint exercise known as "Yudh Abhyas" (War Practice).
India has hosted the annual exercise in Uttarakhand before, including in 2014, 2016 and 2018. But those exercises were all conducted in the foothills, more than 300 km from the boundary.
The edition of the exercise also focused on high-altitude, cold-climate training, but was held in Alaska, Nikkei Asia reported. The combination of high elevation and the proximity to the border area shows that the US and India are pushing the envelope.
The border standoff between India and China, which has cast a shadow over the bilateral relationship, entered its third year in May 2022. A full resolution is still not in sight even though the two sides have had limited success in disengaging rival soldiers from some flashpoints.
India and China have been locked in a border standoff since May 2020 and several rounds of military and diplomatic talks have only resulted in partial disengagement of troops from friction points.
India lost 20 troops in the clash and four Chinese soldiers also died.
During a visit to India this year, US Army's Pacific Commanding General Charles Flynn described China's military build-up near the disputed border as "alarming."
CNN reported that a US department of defence spokesperson said the tied with India was "one of the most important elements of our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region."
"One important element of this broader effort includes exercises and training events and Yudh Abhyas is one such annual bilateral exercise designed to improve interoperability and improve our respective capacities to address a range of regional security challenges," CNN quoted the spokesperson as saying.