JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA (SPC Mendenhall) – Green Berets assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), conducted Vajra Prahar training exercise with Indian Special Operation Forces at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Camp Rilea, Ore., Jan. 18-29, 2016.
The two-week exercise, which hasn’t happened at JBLM since 2011, was a bilateral Joint Combined Exchange Training exercise that improves the ability of the forces involved to respond to a wide range of contingencies. The past few years has seen increased cooperation between the two countries military forces with a remarkable expansion of bilateral training exercises.
“I see our military to military partnership as a very important pillar that contributes to the strategic relationship between the two countries,” said Lt. Col. Terry Butcher, commander of 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). “They [India] are a very important partner, both for the regional security of south Asia and the maritime security. I think that we directly contribute to that by working with their special operation forces.”
The two countries are working together to safeguard maritime security and freedom of navigation as well as strengthening their partnership to combat terrorism and piracy.
“The exercise was strictly maritime focused so everything that we did was in the water,” said 2nd battalion’s operational detachment commander. “We started with an introduction to boat movements and finished with the culminating exercise which was an 8 nautical mile boat movement to a beach landing.”
Along with the boat movements and beach landing the training exercise also included diving, navigation, helo-casting and an airborne operation.
“Working out there with them in the water we get better and they get better,” said Butcher. “We improve upon our individual skills and collective skills as a unit.”
“We trained for this at home, jumping into cold water,” said Maj. Puneet Atwal, commander of the Indian forces. “This is good training. This military to military interaction between the countries will be good for our future.”
Butcher said that the training strengthens the partnership, builds relationships and provides better interoperability.
“If there ever comes a time where we have to work directly hand-in-hand with our Indian partners, understanding the way that they operate on the ground or in the water is going to enable us to work with them using their particular tactics and their methods of operation,” said Butcher. “Just knowing that you have a foreign military unit that you can reach out to, keeps the relationship strong between our units.”
“The greatest benefit for our soldiers is any chance that we get to work along side our allies,” said the operational detachment commander. “It was a good exercise and we got a lot out of it and everyone came away a better-trained soldier.”
The U.S. is committed to broadening ties to Indo-Asia-Pacific partners. As part of the rebalance, the U.S. is strengthening traditional alliances while enhancing forward presence in Southeast Asia, in Oceania and the Indian Ocean.