Yudh Abhyas 2021: US Army ‘Ghost’ warriors of Afghanistan, Iraq team up with Indian Army to flush out terrorists

The US Army with their Stryker armored vehicles teamed up with the Indian infantry troops of the J&K Rifles to conduct a mock terror operation, flushing out terrorists from their hideout in an imaginary village that has been taken over by a rebel group.

By Harkirpal Singh, Updated : Feb 21, 2021 12:26 IST
Yudh Abhyas 2021: US Army ‘Ghost’ warriors of Afghanistan, Iraq team up with Indian Army to flush out terrorists
Yudh Abhyas 2021

According to defense sources, the Indian Army’s T-90 Bhishma tanks that have been deployed in Ladakh amid tensions with China were seen in action striking targets with precision alongside a US Navy brigade that has served in Iraq and Afghanistan as the two armies carried out war games in the Thar desert near Indo-Pak border.

The US Army with their Stryker armored vehicles paired up with the Indian infantry soldiers of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles to conduct a mock terror operation, flushing out terrorists from their hideout in an imaginary village that has been taken over by a rebel group.

With military cooperation being a key element to India-US cooperation, the exercise will not just enhance interoperability between the two forces but will also add to the camaraderie between the two armies. A total of 240 soldiers of the US Army team are part of the exercise for which they arrived on February 5. 

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From-50 degrees in Ladakh against China to 50 degrees in the deserts to challenging Pakistan, the lethal T-90 MBT has always proven its mettle. The Indian and the US Army were war-gaming several scenarios of counter-terror operations in the Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan. The exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas’ started on February 8 and will be concluded on February 21.

The operation has been named ‘Zorawar’ to depict the anti-terror scenario in semi-urban and urban areas.

The US Army’s Ghost Brigade located in Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Seattle, which was involved in Iraq and Afghanistan operations, was part of the exercises with the Indian Army. It has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and more recently was part of operations in Mosul, north Iraq, that had been the hub of terror group ISIS.

The Ghost brigade with its Stryker armored vehicles got its name back in 2003 in Iraq as it was able to carry out operations silently. The Stryker vehicle that carries troops close to the target area almost silently without the enemy getting a whiff adds to the stealth capabilities of troops on the ground. The element of surprise, many say, is almost ghost-like.

“In Iraq, we gained a reputation for quickly and quietly approaching the enemy and insurgent areas. We would strike the enemy before they even knew what hit them. So, we came to be called the Ghost bridge and our motto became arrive in silence,” said Maj Spencer Garrison of the US Army who is part of the brigade.

Also in action were the US-manufactured Apache attack helicopters and the Chinook heavy-lift choppers being used by the Indian forces.

Both the helicopters played a key role in Ladakh during the tussle with China. While the Apache was ready for combat missions carrying out multiple sorties to be battle-ready, the Chinook undertook several sorties in a day transporting men and material to the forward locations.

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During the exercise as Indian special forces personnel were airdropped from a Mi17 helicopter, the Apache hovered around giving cover to the transport choppers as the troops slithered down amid a fog of sand. In the end, it was not just the firepower on the ground but also from the air.

The Indian Army’s Rudra combat helicopters launched a final assault from the air. The choppers threw open a volley of fires from the air hitting the terror dens in the mock exercise before the troops could finally zero in on the ground and declare the area free of terrorists.

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