By Staff Sgt. Samuel NorthrupOctober 3, 2016
CHAUBATTIA MILITARY STATION, India -- Soldiers from the United States and India completed a two-week training exercise on Sept. 27, 2016, at Chaubattia Military Station, India. The closing ceremonies Tuesday marked the 12th year of the bilateral training exercise known as Yudh Abhyas.
Yudh Abhyas, which means 'training for war' in Hindi, focused on the interoperability between the U.S. and Indian armies. The training integrated the soldiers of both the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and the 12 Madras into a single unit for a simulated U.N. peacekeeping operation in a fictional African nation in crisis. The exercise was divided into a command post exercise (CPX) and a field training exercise (FTX).
"Exercise Yudh Abhyas has been a unique experience, a first of its kind for me and my team," said Maj. Sriram, an Indian army officer with 12 Madras. "The unique platform facilitated closer interactions and development of stronger bonds between the soldiers of both armies."
YA allowed for an exchange of knowledge between the two militaries by sharing training techniques, cultural exchanges, and building joint operating skills. Some of the mutual training included education on each nation's equipment and weapon systems, counter improvised explosive device tactics, battlefield trauma management, house clearing techniques, rappelling and more.
"The training curriculum in the exercise was so designed to encourage a high degree jointness in the tactical drills and that the soldiers of both teams could use and understand each other's weapons and equipment," said Sriram. "…The social interactions that the soldiers underwent gave a chance for the soldiers to get to know each other better -- that is the biggest takeaway."
From day one, the emphasis was to encourage soldier-to soldier interaction, Sriram said. Being two different countries with different cultures, it helped to know the soldiers of the other nation better. The more social interactions the soldiers had, the more they bonded.
"This is my first experience working with the Indian Army," said Sgt. Etienne Perrault, a fire team leader with Company C, 5-20th Inf. Reg. "They were very professional and put out a lot of good information relating to mountaineering, quick assault, and rappelling. A lot of it was good information that I can take back and train my soldiers on."
The U.S. soldiers learned from the Indian soldiers and vice versa, said Capt. Chandan, an Indian officer with 12 Madras. A lot of techniques, such as house clearing, were different, but the basic nuances remain the same. It was the same for physical training -- each nation had a different method, but the experience was great.
"We shared in our hardships with them [during training]," said Chandan. "We know more now and learned about each other's cultures."
This was another opportunity to interact with a great partner nation and it's always humbling to listen to somebody's real-world applications of what the U.S. soldiers train on, said Capt. Canyon Yeamans, a civil affairs officer with 83rd Civil Affairs Battalion out of Fort Bragg. It teaches the U.S. soldiers a lot about what they do and the impact it has based on the Indian Army's experiences.
"Anytime you are working in a joint environment, the ability to understand what the partner nation is doing and why they are doing it is tantamount to working together," Yeamans said. "With these exercises, we build that mutual understanding so that in the event that we ever do work together [in a real-word scenario], hopefully it is not a challenge for either of us."
It was a great intellectual and professional challenge to understand the Indian Army's different processes based on decades of experience in operational theaters that are very different from what soldiers in the U.S. Army are used to, said Capt. Adam David, who was the combined brigade battle captain during the CPX.
"I think the biggest lesson that I learned is that soldiers in a lot of ways are the same everywhere we go," David said. "We all have a common interest in defending democracy and freedom. It does not matter where you are, as long you have good men and women beside you, you will be able to get the mission done."