The exercise, at the joint training node in the Umroi Cantonment from November 21 to December 11, will see the two sides jointly plan and execute a series of special operations, counter-terrorism and air-borne drills in simulated conventional and unconventional scenarios in mountainous terrain.
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The US has deployed a contingent of personnel from the 1st Special Forces Group (SFG) for the exercise, while the Indian team is led by Para (Special Forces) commandos from the Eastern Army Command.
“This is the 14th Edition of the Vajra Prahar series of exercises between the two Special Forces. It aims at sharing best practices and experiences in areas such as joint mission planning and operational tactics. It is also a platform to enhance interoperability and strengthen defence cooperation between the Indian and US armies,” an officer said.
The three-week exercise will include “combat free-fall insertion of troops from stand-off distances”, “air-borne and water-borne insertion of troops”, “precision engagement of targets at long ranges” and “combat air controlling of fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft”, among other drills.
India conducts several military exercises with the US every year, ranging from the top-notch `Malabar’ naval exercise, which includes the other `Quad’ countries of Japan and Australia, to the bilateral `Yudh Abhyas’ and ‘Vajra Prahar’ between their armies.
As part of the expansive bilateral defence partnership, the US has also bagged lucrative Indian defence deals worth over $21 billion just since 2007. Two major projects in the pipeline now are the around $3 billion procurement of 31 armed MQ-9B Predator or Reaper drones and the joint production of GE-F414 jet engines for the Tejas Mark-II fighters in India, with 80% transfer of technology for around $1 billion.
India and the US have also inked four “foundational military pacts”, with the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation (Beca) being the last to be concluded in 2020.
India had earlier inked the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with the US in 2002, which was followed by the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (Lemoa in 2016, and then the Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement (Comcasa) in 2018.