India and the United States are conducting a massive joint military exercise in a northern Indian state. The war games reflect the growing security ties between the two countries.
For two weeks, nearly 1000 troops from India and the United States, using heavy transport aircraft and battle tanks, have been taking part in a joint exercise in Babina in Uttar Pradesh state.
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The 18-day exercise, code named Yudh Abhyas
or preparation for war, concludes Thursday.
It is the largest ground combat exercise conducted between the militaries of the two countries.
The commander of the army forces under the U.S. Pacific Command, Lt. General Benjamin Nixon, said Monday that the military maneuvers are preparing both sides to respond to any contingency that may arise in the region.
"So it is a broad scenario, it allows our soldiers to work together, and what we call basic blocking and tackling, and if the eventuality comes where we have to work together with India, with Thailand, with the other nations in the region we work with, we will be better prepared to work as partners together," he said.
Indian Army Lieutenant General A.S. Sekhon says the Indian army is getting exposure to some new technologies.
"You just saw a hand held UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] being launched" said Sekhon. "This is something new to the Indian army. These are various things you pick up in tits and bits, in pieces from each other. Some things are our strength, which they can pick up, and some things are their strength. Technology certainly is their strength."
The air forces of the two countries held a joint exercise last week, at Agra.
These war games will allow Indian military officials to assess some of the American defense equipment being offered for sale to India.
The two militaries have held exercises for several years. Officials say these have grown in "scope and scale" as ties between the two countries have blossomed.
India and the United States share common security concerns in the South Asian region, where both countries want to tackle the menace of terrorism emanating from terror groups based in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Both countries also say they want to cooperate to stabilize Afghanistan.
New Delhi views its growing ties with the United States as a counterweight to China -- a one-time rival of which it continues to be wary, despite steadily improving ties. (signed)