Just as India and China began withdrawing troops from the Landakh region on the contested border, American troops have arrived for exercises in India. Exercise Yudh Abhyas began last week in Rajasthan, a province just South-West of New Delhi which borders Pakistan. Around 270 American soldiers and around 250 of their Indian counterparts are reported to be participating.
The stated objective of the bilateral exercise is achieving “combined interoperability capabilities through training and cultural exchange, which foster enduring partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region through common defense objectives”. The focus of the exercise is expected to be on counter-terrorism and peacekeeping.
This new development follows less than three months after the Malabar naval exercise which saw all members of the quad (Australia, India, Japan US) participating. Yudh Abhyas, however, is the first drill with India under the Biden administration which is expected to, and seemingly continues to, follow the push for closer relations with India which became most noticeable under the previous administration.
The CCP-linked Global Times offered some anti-American advice in an article attacking the exercise:
“Chinese experts reminded Indian media not to get over-excited about the upcoming Indo-US military exercises on Monday, as the Biden administration might consider using India as a pawn to contain China under Indo-Pacific Strategy while criticize India’s streaky record on race, human rights and religion.”
Across the Asian continent, the US also participated in a naval drill with Turkey in the Black Sea. The Turkish Ministry of Defense stated that a few aircraft, Turkish frigates TCG Turgutreis and TCG Orucreis and the American destroyers USS Porter and USS Donald Cook took part. The Navy referenced the drill indirectly in a tweet:
The drills come at a time of increasingly strained relations between Turkey, the US and NATO, however. While Turkey has expressed a wish to compromise on the divisive S-400 issue, the US proved unwilling to lift sanctions. Meanwhile Greece and Turkey are locked in a heated rivalry and throughout the alliance there is much disapproval for Erdogan’s leadership and policy that Turkey has taken towards the Middle East.