The United States and India will conduct a joint military exercise in mid-October at an altitude of 10,000 feet in Auli in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, according to a senior Indian Army officer with knowledge of the matter. The two countries will focus on high-altitude warfare training as part of the 18th edition of an annual joint exercise known as “Yudh Abhyas” — or “War Practice”.
Relations between India and China have been strained since a bloody clash between their soldiers in the Himalayas in June 2020 left at least 20 Indian troops and four Chinese soldiers dead. The recent construction of a bridge across the Pangong Tso lake has been condemned by the Indian government as an “illegal occupation.” During a visit to India this year, the US Army’s Pacific Commanding General Charles Flynn described China’s military build-up near the disputed border as “alarming.” Asked about the joint exercises, a US Department of Defense spokesperson told CNN that the partnership with India was “one of the most important elements of our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
One key aspect of the broader mission is exercises and training exchanges, and one of the annual bilateral exchange initiatives is Yudh Abhyas, which aims to improve interoperability and enhance the respective capacities of the parties to address various security challenges.
Line of Actual Control
The Line of Actual Control, the diffuse, quod erat demonstrandum delineator between India and China, emerged from the Sino-Indian border war of 1962, which itself was spurred by longstanding historical territorial disagreements. Its precise location can be nebulous, and there is still dispute between India and China as to where one border finishes and the other begins.
If China and India engage in military provocations, it could lead to grave consequences. Both countries possess nuclear weapons, and border tensions escalated in June 2020 after soldiers fought each other with fists, stones and nail-studded bamboo poles in a bloody brawl that killed at least 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley. Though tensions have since eased between the two countries, both sides maintain a large troop presence along their shared border—raising the risk of potential miscalculation should there suddenly be clashes or unexpected flare-ups of violence.