After LEMOA, it’s war games now

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Accounting and book-keeping for latest counter-terrorism exercises to be under new agreement

As Indian and U.S. troops began to assemble for counter-terrorism exercises in the hills of Uttarakhand from September 14 to 27, senior officials said they would soon discuss ways to enhance the scope and scale of exercises in tune with the deepening military cooperation.

While this is not the first time it is happening on this location, this is the first military exercise after the two countries signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA). This means that accounting and book-keeping for the exercise will be done under the arrangement which does away with the need for settling bills and payments every time. They will be recorded and cleared every three months.

The bilateral exercise comes against the backdrop of Pakistani media reports that Pakistan and Russia will hold their first joint military exercise later this year. Possible sale of Russian military hardware to Islamabad is on the cards.

Separately, China and Russia began naval war games on Monday in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where India had joined the chorus for enforcing “freedom of navigation” and “open sea lanes of communication”.

The 12th edition of the annual bilateral exercise, Yudh Abhyas, one of the longest running joint military training exercises, will take place at Chaubattia in Uttarakhand, close to the China border.

Both countries host the exercise alternately.

Officials said that currently the exercise is at the company level, comprising 225 soldiers from each side, with Brigade headquarter elements incorporated. Plans are on to enhance the scope and scale to the brigade level with division-level elements added on.

“This will be deliberated in detail during the upcoming exercise,” one official told The Hindu. At present, bilateral exercises with China, Russia and the U.S. are all at the company level. “If enhanced, it will be the largest military exercise India undertakes with any country,” the official said.

To questions, a U.S. Embassy spokesperson observed that Yudh Abhyas would be an excellent opportunity for U.S. and Indian forces to share tactics, techniques, procedures and operational experiences. “It is also an opportunity to broaden India-U.S. military cooperation and enhance interoperability.”

The combined exercise Yudh Abhyas 2016 will simulate a scenario where both nations are working together in a counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism (CICT) environment in mountainous terrain under a United Nations charter, the Army said in a statement.

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