CHANDIGARH, India (March 23, 2010) -- Senior leaders and planners from the Indian Army, U.S. Army, Pacific, Marine Forces Pacific, Special Operations Command, and the Department of the Army, met at the Indian Army's Western Command headquarters in Chandigarh, India, to discuss the future of bilateral ground and amphibious engagements between the two countries during the 14th Executive Steering Group, March 22-23.

Due to the country's economic growth and infrastructure improvements, India is an emerging regional and global superpower and the relationship between the world's two largest democracies continues to grow yearly with the onset of more complex exercises, exchanges and growing realizations of shared interests within the Southwest Asia region.

"This forum provides senior leaders the opportunity to come together to chart out a program of exchanges for the U.S. and Indian Armies," said Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commanding general, USARPAC.

The India ESG was established in 1995, and encompasses all Theater Security Cooperation Program events as well as bilateral studies and working group meetings between functional experts.

It contributes directly to Pacific Command's Theater Campaign Plan objectives to optimize support to defeat violent extremism and reduce weapons of mass destruction threat levels, optimize positive partnerships and sustain and increase warfighting readiness and capabilities by allowing senior leaders to come together and establish mutual objectives to enhance relationships.

"It makes strategic sense to work together to achieve common goals," said Col. Kurt Meppen, chief, Department of the Army International Affairs Division. "Senior leaders from both nations have learned to trust each other and share viewpoints."

During the conference, delegates not only shared viewpoints they also shared information on immediate improvised-explosive device threats within the area.

"It was good to glean information from the Indian Army officers about their immense experience with IED threats," said Col. Ed Toy, director, IED Fusion Center.

Toy gave a briefing to selected delegates about IED counter measures and the Indian Army shared their knowledge in return.

Throughout the working group, attendees devoted time and thought to strengthening partnerships through training and scholarly exchanges. By the end of the conference, both Armies agreed to host and participate in six subject matter expert exchanges; to include mechanized infantry, IED counter measures, artillery, aviation and information operations over the next year. They also agreed to three major exercises within India and the U.S.

The most visible and far-reaching exchange for USARPAC is Exercise Yudh Abhyas. The annual bilateral exercise has grown from a platoon-level command post exercise to boasting the largest deployment of Stryker vehicles outside of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in 2009.

Mixon said the month-long field training exercise is a testament to how far relations have come with India and hopes the exercise will eventually grow into a division-level CPX within the next five years.

"We have reached a historic threshold with our relationship between the two countries," Mixon said. "The operations we do together are reaching a complexity of the highest level."

Lt. Gen AS Sekkhon, Indian Army Director General of Military Operations agreed.

"Yudh Abyhas was a huge achievement and certainly gives us all satisfaction," he said.

Sekkhon added he, too, hopes the exercise will continue to grow along with the relationship between the two forces.

"We will continue to move forward through continued cooperation," said Indian Army Col. LP Singh, an officer assigned to the 9th Infantry Regiment (Mechanized). "This meeting, along with our exchanges will ensure that cooperation."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16