HONOLULU Aca,!" Wednesday November 5, 2008 marked the final day of Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2008 in which Soldiers from the Army ReserveAca,!a,,cs 9th Mission Support Command (MSC), the California Army National GuardAca,!a,,cs 40th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 49th Infantry Brigade (Indian Army) took part.
The two-week joint military exercise was designed to exercise the Peace-keeping operations skills of the three military units as a collective unit under a single authority. Yudh Abhyas is a bi-lateral, brigade level, U.N.-modeled peace-keeping support operation in which U.S. military personnel work hand-in-hand with the Indian military.
YA 08 is the culmination of a five year platoon, company, battalion, and brigade series of bi-lateral exercises with the Indian Army. YA 08 is one of several exercises conducted by U.S. Army, PacificAca,!a,,cs Theater Security Cooperation Program (TSCP). This year, due to the deployment of the 25th Infantry Division, the 9th MSC was tasked to be the executive agent or lead agency.
Additionally, Yudh Abhyas serves to encourage a cultural exchange between U.S. and Indian forces to improve cultural awareness, to develop friendships and to enhance cooperation.
Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cve never worked with a foreign military before and being a part of this exercise has given me the opportunity to experience something completely different,Aca,!A? said Sgt. Jose Sanchez, of the California National Guard.
Aca,!A"The Indian Army is a highly trained, very professional force. They bring a wealth of information and experience to this exercise,Aca,!A? explained Sanchez.
The exercise planners were careful to build activities designed to develop cohesion between the Soldiers which emphasized the things the Soldiers had in common. One such event was simply named Aca,!A"sports day.Aca,!A?
The day started out with business as usual with the standard exercise training, however, after lunch everyone changed into their physical training gear and moved to the gymnasium at the Aliamanu Military Housing Reservation.
Aca,!A"Sports day is an opportunity for us to build teamwork. Since we are forming a combined brigade, the class work training we have done in the first couple days of this training event has been good in increasing our understanding of how the U.N. forces, and Indian Army, work and operate,Aca,!A? said 40th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Brigade Commander, Col. David Baldwin.
Although the competition was fierce at times, the intent was to foster teamwork and build relationships that would carry-over from the basketball and volleyball courts back to the office the following day.
Aca,!A"One of the most important components of this event is to build friendships, and to get to know each other at the soldier to soldier and person-to-person level," said Brigadier Neeraj Bali, the exercise officer-in-charge of the Indian Army contingent participating in the Yudh Abhyas.
There did, in fact, appear to be a different atmosphere of cooperation in the days following sports day.
The exercise concluded on Tuesday morning with an awards ceremony and social brunch during which the Soldiers from California and India were treated to local island-style pupus and hula dancing.
Following the official ceremonies, the different counter-parts took the opportunity to spend their final day together touring the island before heading back to their respective homes, no doubt richer and more prepared for the next joint peace-keeping mission that comes along.