By Spc. Ashley M. Armstrong, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense CommandNovember 11, 2010
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - It was not snow that fell from the sky here on Nov. 10. Instead, the sky was speckled with the parachutes of Soldiers from U.S. Army Alaska and the Indian army.
Almost 400 paratroopers from both armies jumped and landed at Malamute Drop Zone as part of a friendship jump for combined training exercise Yudh Abhyas 2010. It was the first time the U.S. Army and the Indian army conducted a combined jump.
"The soldiers from the Indian army were really excited about having a chance to jump with us, and our Soldiers were excited as well. Having the opportunity to jump with another army is always a great experience," said Sgt. Randy Henrion, team leader with Apache Troop, 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.
Soldiers participating in the combined jump qualified to receive foreign jump wings. Jump wings are scheduled to be presented in a ceremony Nov. 13.
"It's been great working with the Indian army. They are very professional," said Spc. Justin Coates, infantryman in Charlie Troop, 1-40th CAV. "They really know what they are doing, and I felt confident with their ability to jump.
"It is unique jumping with a foreign army. I'm definitely going to remember this jump more than other ones."
Soldiers and jumpmasters from both armies combined their knowledge, experience and leadership abilities for the jump.
"We weren't split apart. Everyone was intermingling," Henrion said. "Our Soldiers were integrated with theirs, and all the jumpmasters were working together.
"We are all paratroopers, even though we are from different armies. Jumping together is definitely one of those experiences that brings everyone involved tighter and closer."
Prior training ensured that both armies were synchronized and prepared for a successful operation.
"They have been able to adapt to our differences very quickly," Henrion said. "So seeing them perform so well in this unfamiliar environment is amazing. From talking to them and working with them, I've learned that even though we wear different uniforms, we still share the same lifestyle."
Henrion described the jump as the climax of the Yudh Abhyas 2010 exercise because of the significance it had to the overall exercise and to each individual involved.
"It's always great to meet soldiers from another country knowing that we can share experiences with each other," Coates said. "This experience has definitely strengthened our camaraderie. We've all had a really good time together."
Yudh Abhyas is a regularly-scheduled bilateral, conventional-forces training exercise, sponsored by U.S. Army, Pacific and the Indian Army. The exercise is designed to promote cooperation between the two militaries to develop U.S. Army Pacific and USARAK relationships with India and promote interoperability through combined Military Decision Making Process, battle tracking and maneuvering forces, and exchange of tactics, techniques and procedures.
U.S. Soldiers and their Indian counterparts are conducting a command post exercise, airborne operations training, marksmanship and tactical training to improve partnership readiness and cooperation between the armies of India and the United States during Yudh Abhyas 2010.
Follow Yudh Abhyas 2010 on the web at http://www.usarpac.army.mil/ya10, Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/US-Army-Pacific/113619942022854 and Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/usarpac/sets/72157625288366066.