China is opposing it by saying it is an interference in the bilateral boundary issue and a violation of agreements between New Delhi and Beijing that no military drill will be held near the Line of Actual Control
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
India is gearing up for the battalion level annual exercise 'Yudh Abhyas' between the Indian and US armies, which is to be held at Auli in Uttrakhand some 100 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC). This will be the 18th edition of the "Yudh Abhyas" (practice for war) drill, a bilateral India-US exercise, and will be held at an altitude of over 10,000 feet. The exercise will take place in the backdrop of the ongoing border standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh with both sides having deployed thousands of troops and heavy weaponry along the LAC.
Bilateral military exercises and defence exchanges are an important facet of deepening bilateral defence cooperation between friendly countries. Earlier, the 13th edition of India-US joint Special Forces exercise 'Vajra Prahar' was held at the Special Forces Training School at Bakloh in Himachal Pradesh from August 8 to August 28, 2022. The 'Vajra Prahar' series of Indo-US joint exercises commenced in 2010 - conducted alternately in India and the US to share the best practices and experiences in areas such as joint mission planning and operational tactics, as also to improve interoperability between the Special Forces of both nations. The 13th edition of Vajra Prahar aimed at sharing experiences and best practices in mission planning and operational tactics of Special Forces operations.
China's Ministry of National Defence spokesman, Colonel Tan Kefei cited two agreements signed by India and China in 1993 and 1996, saying this exercise violates both.
News of the forthcoming Exercise 'Yudh Abhyas' was first broken by Major Jonathan Lewis of US Army Pacific Command in early August this year, who told that this year the focus of this exercise would be on cold weather operations and in high altitude environment that poses distinct challenges. According to Jeff Smith, research scholar for South Asia at the Heritage Foundation's Asia Study Centre, Yudh Abhyas exercises were held in Uttarakhand during 2014, 2016 and 2018 but the training areas used was in the foothills, over 300 km from the LAC.
With news of the forthcoming Exercise 'Yudh Abhyas' China immediately went berserk in opposing it by saying it is an interference in the bilateral boundary issue and a violation of agreements between New Delhi and Beijing that no military drill will be held near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between the two countries. China's Ministry of National Defence spokesman, Colonel Tan Kefei said, "We firmly oppose any third party to meddle in the China-India border issue in any form."
A statement issued by China's Ministry of National Defence said that China has always stressed that military cooperation of relevant countries, especially on exercises and training activities, should not be targeted at any third party, but rather serve to help maintain regional peace and stability. The China-India border issue is a matter between the two countries and "both sides have maintained effective communications at all levels and agreed to properly handle the situation through bilateral dialogues."
The problem with China is its refusal to look into the mirror. There is no embargo on exercises 100 km away from the LAC. Also, what right do they have to crib about exercises after the Chinese aggression in Eastern Ladakh during 2020
Tan cited two agreements signed by India and China in 1993 and 1996, saying this exercise violates both. "In light of the relevant agreements signed by China and India in 1993 and 1996, neither side is allowed to conduct military exercise against the other in areas near the LAC," Tan said. He was referring to the '1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the LAC in the Sino-Indian Border' and the '1996 Agreement on Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC in the Sino-Indian Border'.
Tan further said, "It is hoped that the Indian side will strictly abide by the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and the relevant agreements, uphold its commitment to resolving border issues through bilateral channels, and maintain peace and tranquility in the border area with practical actions."
The problem with China and its clowns like Tan Kefei is their one-sided rant and refusal to look into the mirror. There is no embargo on exercises 100 km away from the LAC. But more importantly, what right do these jokers have to crib about exercises after the Chinese aggression in Eastern Ladakh during 2020 and with the PLA having consolidated its new positions in the intrusions areas?
This year's 18th edition of Exercise 'Yudh Abhyas' is a two-week long exercise in high altitude at Auli in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand, less than 100 km from the LAC in the Central Sector. It is 100 km from the LAC, not "near" the LAC as China alleges. The exercise will be held at an altitude of 10,000 feet, which is where Stage 1 of acclimatisation is held for troops deployed in forward posts at high altitude in the Central Sector.
This exercise will witness greater integration of air and ground assets, with the IAF also playing a key role. The Indian and American contingents will undertake maneuvers to exploit the full scope of high-altitude warfare to see how the Indian and US troops can operate together.
This exercise will witness greater integration of air and ground assets, with the IAF also playing a key role. The Indian and American contingents will undertake maneuvers to exploit the full scope of high-altitude warfare to see how the Indian and US troops can operate together. According to a defence source, "This time it is a very important exercise because the Indian side will be showcasing their high-altitude warfare strategies, while the Americans will be showcasing a number of technologies that can be used in such scenarios. This exercise has been planned in such a way that both sides can come together for any scenario."
It is high time India ignores Chinese bickering and holds joint exercises with foreign armies both in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh without bothering about the distance from the LAC especially given that Chinese fighter jets are periodically violating the agreement not to fly with 10 km of the LAC. This would be an apt signal to China in response to its illegal territorial claims to the Indian regions of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.