U.S. Army Alaska will host soldiers from the Indian Army for Yudh Abhyas, a bilateral training exercise, Oct. 15-29, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, in Anchorage.

Yudh Abhyas is a two-week training exercise that seeks to improve “the combined interoperability of the Indian Army and U.S. Army Alaska to increase partner capacity for conventional, complex and future contingencies throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” according to an Army press release.

Yudh Abhyas was held bi-annually over the past decade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington state. Back then, the exercise was focused on desert environments, but that’s changing, according to Maj. Gen. Peter Andrysiak, former commander of U.S. Army Alaska.

“The focus is no longer the desert, or that type of training. The focus is mountainous, cold environments,” Andrysiak told a discussion panel hosted by the Wilson Center’s Polar Institute late last year. “In 2021, we’ll host them in Alaska. In 2022, it’s supposed to be in the Himalayas.”

U.S. Army Alaska has renewed its focus on cold weather warfare over the past year, as the warming Artic emerges as a potential flash point for global conflict. Part of the change for 25th Infantry Division soldiers based in Alaska involves inverting the old, summer-focused training cycle, and pushing soldiers into the field during the winter.

During this year’s Yudh Abhyas exercise, paratroopers from 1st Squadron, 404th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, will be joined by approximately 350 soldiers from the Indian Army’s 7th Battalion, Madras Regiment.

Soldiers selected for the joint exercise from both armies are considered to be experts in “surviving, operating, fighting and winning in extreme cold weather and high altitude environments,” skills which will all be tested during the exercise, the press release stated.

The Indian Army has experience conducting high altitude operations, such as those in the Himalayas, where Indian and Chinese forces have brawled over border disputes in recent months.

A mountaineering expedition consisting of both armies’ troops will be hosted by the Northern Warfare Training Center at the Black Rapids Training Site near Delta Junction, Alaska.

The rest of the exercise will primarily take place on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, where soldiers will work together during a command post exercise and field training events.

All soldiers participating in Yudh Abhyas will be following COVID-19 mitigation efforts that include testing, social distancing, mask mandates, monitoring from medical personnel on the ground and sanitization of all areas utilized, Army officials stated.

Opening ceremonies for the exercise will be held Oct. 15 at Pershing Field on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran and Master's candidate at New York University. She's currently an Editorial Fellow for Military Times.

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