CHAUBATTIA, India (Sept. 25, 2014) -- Watching the sunrise above the Himalayas while practicing yoga, rock climbing and rappelling as monkeys jump through the trees overhead; it sounds like an adventure vacation but for more than 75 U.S. Soldiers from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, it's an opportunity to work with the soldiers of the Indian Army to enhance the cooperation and coordination necessary during peacekeeping operations.
"I never thought I'd be rock climbing in the Himalayas, even with joining the Army," said 2nd Lt. Dan Mayer, a platoon leader with 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, after completing the rock climbing course.
In the 10 years since exercise Yudh Abhyas began, it has grown from platoon-level operations to brigade-and battalion-level operations. This year the training is focused on combined training events within three key elements; a command post exercise, a field training exercise and expert academic exchanges. Soldiers from 5-1 Cavalry, and the Indian army's 2nd Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles, are participating in the field training exercise. Soldiers with the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, are taking part in the command post exercise.
"Just seeing how another army works, seeing how a completely different culture in an army works, is great," said Mayer.
The field training exercise places Soldiers from a battalion of Soldiers from the 5-1 Cavalry, and an Indian army battalion with the 2/9 Gurkhas, side-by-side in field training events, including a jungle live-fire rifle range, a reflexive-fire range, a ropes confidence course, an obstacle course and rock climbing. Soldiers from both armies have conducted classes and demonstrations on peacekeeping operations, ranging from crowd control to cordon and search, providing an opportunity to see familiar tasks done in a different way.
"They have different ways to do things than we do which is good; they can teach us and we can teach them as well," said Staff Sgt. Brianna Warren, a team leader with 5-1 Cavalry who calls Racine, Wisconsin, home.
Warren said she will return to Alaska, with a new respect for the Indian Army and how their experiences differ from hers.
For many of the U.S. Soldiers, working with another nation's military is a new experience with many benefits.
"The Soldiers are really benefiting from seeing the discipline of the 2/9 Gurhkas; I think it's seen both ways as well," said Mayer.
"We're training off of each other, we're learning how we function," said Sgt. Michael Higgenbottham, a cavalry scout with 5-1 Cavalry. "They have a unique experience that I think anybody would be able to appreciate."
While the Soldiers may be focused on training, they are sharing experiences and building relationships.
"Now we're finally starting to mesh with the platoon we've been lined up with and we're finally starting to build that relationship that we're looking to create while we're here," said Mayer.
Exercise Yudh Abhyas 14 is being held in the area of Ranikhet Cantonment, Utterakhand, India, approximately 200 miles northeast of Delhi and is scheduled to take place Sept. 17-30 and is focused on low-intensity, counter-insurgent actions in order to improve the ability of all forces involved to respond to a wide range of contingencies related to U.N. missions.