New Delhi: India and the US will kickstart a 15-day mega military exercise in Alaska from Friday to further deepen bilateral military cooperation. The 17th edition of India-US joint military exercise "Yudh Abhyas 2021" will be conducted at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Alaska from October 15 to 29, the Indian Army said on Thursday. The Indian contingent at the exercise will comprise 350 personnel of an infantry battalion group of the Indian Army.
The previous edition of the exercise took place at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Bikaner in February.
"This India-US joint military exercise is another step in the growing military cooperation between the two countries. The exercise aims at enhancing understanding, cooperation and interoperability between two armies," the Army said. It said the exercise will focus on "combined arms manoeuvres in cold climatic conditions and is primarily aimed at sharing tactical level drills and learning best practices from each other".
The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.
In June 2016, the US had designated India a "Major Defence Partner". The two countries have also signed key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provides for deeper cooperation.
The two sides also signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.
In October last year, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties. The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries.