In another sign of increasing military cooperation between India and the US, the Special Forces of the two countries are resuming their joint training exercise, Vajra Prahar, after a gap of four years. The new edition of exercise will be hosted next month by the First Special Forces Group of the US Army at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
The last edition of Vajra Prahar was hosted by the Indian Army at Nahan in Himachal Pradesh in 2012.
Indian Army’s Special Forces will be sending a 40-member team to take part in the exercise, which is scheduled for the last two weeks of January. According to defence ministry sources, the purpose is to improve interoperability and familiarisation of each other’s tactics.
The exercise comes on the heel of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to the US earlier this month where he became the first Indian defence minister to visit the headquarters of the Pacific Command in Hawaii and witnessed a naval aviation display from the US aircraft carrier, USS Dwight D Eisenhower. During the visit, India announced its participation in the US Air Force’s Exercise Red Flag and world’s largest maritime exercise RIMPAC hosted by the US Navy. The Indian Air Force had last participated in Exercise Red Flag in 2008, and the Indian Navy was an observer in Exercise RIMPAC last year.
Earlier this year, India, US and Japan had agreed for a permanent participation in annual naval exercise Malabar, which is alternatively held in the Bay of Bengal and the Sea of Japan. That has been ostensibly done to counter the Chinese influence in the region.