India, US soldiers hold joint counter-terrorism drill in desert

By Sumit Kumar Singh
Mahajan Field Firing Range (Rajasthan), Feb 19 (IANS) India and US soldiers are carrying out a joint tactical level exercise in the Thar desert, aimed at enhancing cooperation and interoperability.

The 16th edition of bilateral exercise Yudh Abhyas is being conducted at the foreign training node at the Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan’s Bikaner. The drill is named Zorawar, in honour of mid 19th-century Dogra military commander General Zorawar Singh, who is renowned as the “Conqueror of Ladakh”.

The focus of the drill is counter-terror operations and apart from that, both militaries are carrying out familiarisation and handling of weapons, battlefield trauma management, casualty evacuation, tactical level questioning, intelligence collection tracking and interrogation techniques and counter-IED drills.

During the exercise, firing from small arms, medium range arms and tanks were carried out.

About the counter-terror joint drills, US Army Major Sameer Puri said: “We should maintain the high level of professionalism. We should expand more such drills so that we can integrate more staff functions.”

He said that there should be officer to officer level of co-ordination and non-commissioned officer to non-commissioned officer integration so they they can learn common language of military processes.

Major Puri said that terrorism is biggest threat for the world and it should be countered strongly. “We have learnt a lot during the exercise,” he said.

Similarly, Captain Alica Brown said that the drill was an amazing experience for her.

“We were welcomed with open arms. The hospitality was more than even dreamed about. It is great experience to have shared understanding with Indian Army,” she said.

A total 240 US Army personnel are part of the exercise and they had arrived on February 5.

“Full Covid-19 protocol were maintained during the exercise,” said a senior Indian Army officer.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at sumit.k@ians.in)

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