US and India armed forces begin annual bilateral exercises in the Himalayas

US and India armed forces begin annual bilateral exercises in the Himalayas

The Indian and US militaries will conduct two weeks of joint exercises at the foothills of the Himalayas beginning today.

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Photo: Reuters

The Indian and US militaries will conduct two weeks of joint exercises at the foothills of the Himalayas beginning today.

They both share a wariness over China—which participated in a massive Russian military exercise involving 300,000 troops in Siberia last week. The Himalayas exercises will involve only 350 personnel from both armies and will focus on counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism manoeuvres.

Despite their military cooperation, the US and India remain at odds over India’s ongoing purchase of Russian military equipment, such as the S-400 missiles. Additionally, New Delhi prefers not to antagonise China unnecessarily, whereas Washington has no qualms about building up the Indo-American military relationship at Beijing’s expense.

India seems pleased with the relatively small scale of the Himalayan exercises which is unlikely to concern China. However, watch for how negotiations pan out for joint land-sea-air military drills to be held off the East India coast next year. The massive Siberian drills last week will not be lost on the Trump administration, so expect the White House to want to make a statement next year. New Delhi will likely be more cautious and may push back if the scale is deemed excessive enough to rattle Beijing.

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