'Ghost Brigade' officials meet with Indian counterparts to discuss Yudh Abhyas
By Staff Sgt. Samuel NorthrupJuly 26, 2016
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Members of 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team met with Indian army officials July 18-20, at Ranikhet, India, to plan for the upcoming Yudh Abhyas exercise scheduled for September of this year.Yudh Abhyas is a regularly-scheduled bilateral exercise hosted by the Indian and U.S. Armies which allows for an exchange of knowledge between the two militaries using a U.N. peacekeeping scenario. Yudh Abhyas has been ongoing since 2004, and is designed to promote cooperation between the two militaries while sharing training, cultural exchanges, and building joint operating skills."We spoke with the Indian army about some of the things they want to see in the exercise and it gave us a perspective of what we have to incorporate when it comes to equipment and doctrine," said Capt. Abid Mahmud, the intelligence planner for the YA conference. "It helped us understand how to adjust our lectures and training to accommodate the Indian army and vice versa."The Indians use different terminology in their doctrine, said Mahmud. Understanding the differences and how they relate to U.S. Army tactics, techniques and procedures will help move conversations along and allow for better understanding of each nation's training methods."The Indian army officers have a lot of experience," Mahmud said. "I spoke to one of the colonels and he has been serving for about 25 years. They can speak in depth about operations and their experience differs from my experience in Afghanistan or Iraq. They have some different tactics, which apply more to the Pacific region."For the past several years, the U.S. Army has been dealing with the Middle East, he said. This training exercise breaks that routine puts more emphasis on the Pacific."We definitely can learn a lot from them," said Capt. Thomas Reece, the operations assistant for 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 1-2 SBCT. "Like us, they are operating in two different theaters. It is a little different because those theaters are within their own borders. They have been operating in those types of environments a lot longer than we have, but we have some ideas to exchange from our own experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan."In the exercise, the U.S. Army is going to see how well they can integrate Indian army personnel, said Mahmud. There will be a lot of figuring out what the Indians can come to the table with. On the same token, the U.S. has equipment the Indians do not have that will be introduced. Some where along the line the two armies have to blend those two things and develop better operating methods."What I found is we definitely have more in common than we have differences," said 1st Lt. Jason Hanson, the 5-20th Inf. logistics planner for the conference. "They have a different way of working in their system, but all together we have the same challenges, just in different forms."My counterpart was an Indian Major, whose experience and time in service was far exceeding my own," said Hanson. "I also spoke with many Indian colonels who had anywhere from 20 to 26 years of service in their army, but that did not hinder our discussions or our relationship. It's not about how long you have served; it's about the cultural exchange and bringing different perspectives to the table."The U.S. Army learned it needed different tactics and techniques for Iraq than the ones they were using in Afghanistan, Reece said. Whatever the future holds, Soldiers are going to need to learn quickly and develop new procedures. After discussing those topics with the Indians, they have similar feelings and wish learn from the combined experience."I guess looking forward, the common thread we share is the understanding that we need to be quick to adapt and quick to learn whenever we go into to a new place," Reece said. "Our shared experience will definitely help both nations."