Trained in India, to fight in Iraq

US Troops From War Zone in Heartland Drill

Published on Global Research.ca, by Sujan Dutta, October 30, 2009.

New Delhi: An Indo-US wargame that ended today in Uttar Pradesh helped retrain part of an American contingent that went into action in Iraq and will be redeployed in the war-ravaged country, scaling up the bilateral exercise that was originally projected as a peace-keeping drill …

… In Bombay, the Strykers, each weighing about 19 tonnes, were transported in sixteen-wheeler trucks to armoured corps base in Babina (that was started by the British with the acronym that stands for British Army Base in North India). 

The Strykers and the US troops will now head back the same way for more training in the Mojave Desert in Southern California. “This exercise (Yudh Abhyas 09) is a ramp-up in training, as the unit prepares for larger pre-deployment training exercises such as those at the National Training Facility in California,” a US army statement said.

The US army contingent was hosted by the general officer commanding the Indian Army’s 31st armoured division, Maj Gen Anil Malik. The Indians deployed the 7th Mechanised Infantry for the drill. The scale of the exercise involving armoured units – India’s Russian-origin BMP troop-carriers, its latest T-90 tanks and Dhruv helicopters – and the US Pacific Army chief’s comments invariably stoked interest once again on possible joint operations.

“This is all about training with the Indian army, to enhance relationships so that we gain a greater understanding of each other. That’s really what this is all about,” the general said. “India has a professional army. I will go with the Indian Army anywhere, anytime,” he added.

But beyond the show of power and battlefield skills, there was also a pitch for arms sales to India.
The Stryker vehicle itself was closely watched by the Indian forces. It can be configured for several tasks – offensive, reconnaissance, communications and evacuations apart from troop carrying.

A senior official of the Pentagon’s defence sales branch also escorted executives of defence companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to Babina for the exercise. The US contingent demonstrated the fire-and-forget Javelin anti-tank missile, at least a generation ahead of the Milans that the Indians use. India is scouting the markets to stock up on anti-tank systems because the Indian Army still trains for scenarios of armoured warfare.

Indian soldiers were not allowed to drive the Stryker but some of them took shots at dead tanks with the missile. The sleek shoulder-fired Javelin hones into its target without having to be guided to it. It is made by Raytheon. (full text).

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