New Delhi: Noting that the Chinese military’s infrastructure build-up under its Western Theatre Command — that looks after India — was “eye-opening and alarming”, a top visiting US Army officer Wednesday said the Indian and American Army will train together this year at 9,000-10,000 feet to increase interoperability for high-altitude warfare.
Pitching for a strong operational bond between the two armies in the Indo-Pacific region instead of only focusing on the naval interoperability, US Army Pacific Commanding General Charles Flynn termed China’s build-up near Ladakh and strengthening of its military infrastructure as part of Beijing’s “corrosive and destabilising behaviour”.
Pointing out that he has been part of the Pacific Command since 2014 under various ranks, Gen Flynn said, “When I sort of look back on what the CPC (Communist Party of China) and the PRC (People’s Republic of China) were doing, compared to what they are doing today, they have taken an incremental and insidious path and destabilizing and corrosive behaviours that they project into the region are simply not helpful”.
Interacting with a select group of journalists, the senior US Army officer who will be visiting the crucial Eastern Command tomorrow also spoke on the Ladakh situation.
When asked about the Chinese buildup along the Line of Control (LAC) and construction of villages in Bhutan, the officer said he believed “that activity level is eye-opening”.
“Some of the infrastructures that is being created in Western Theatre Command (WTC) is alarming. And so much like across all of their military arsenal, one has to ask the question why. I don’t have a crystal ball to say how it is going to end or where it will be but I will say, it is worthy of asking that question and trying to get a response as to what their intentions are,” he said.
Talking about the ongoing military and diplomatic talks between India and China to resolve the Ladakh crisis that has entered its third year, he said it is helpful but Chinese actions and words don’t match.
“I think the talks that are going on are helpful but behaviour matters here as well. I think my understanding is that what they are saying is one thing but the way they are acting and behaving in a way of build-up is concerning and it is concerning to everyone. Obviously, there has been tension and we have to pay attention to that,” he said.
Indo-US joint exercise an ‘expression of commitment’
During the interaction, Gen Flynn also spoke on the Indo-US joint exercise, ‘Yudh Abhyas’, calling it an example of increasing interoperability, jointness and readiness.
“I think that is an expression of commitment, at least in the military domain, the exchange of what land power and what armies represent,” he said about the exercises which will be entering their 15th year and are slated to be held in October.
“I would tell you that that exercise sharpens the Indian army and US army’s exchange of professionalism and exchange of various elements of combined arms manoeuvres,” he remarked.
He said there are many things that the US Army can learn from their Indian counterparts when it comes to such a high-altitude environment.
“In some way, we can also share our experience of years and years of combat in many theatres,” he said.
The senior US officer stated that he was “really excited” about the joint military exercise this year, which is being conducted at an altitude of 9,000-10,000 feet. Last year the exercise was held in Alaska.
“That kind of training and exercise increases our jointness, increases our interoperability, increases our coalition interoperability. At the end of the day, this sharing of soldier, tactical and operational practices increases everyone’s response to whatever crisis may occur,” he said.
The senior officer added that this has a deterrent effect across regions and that training and rehearsing with one another is a valuable way of expressing commitment to each other.
Underlining that the aim was to make the exercise more complex, Gen Flynn also elaborated on its future direction.
“Both countries over the years will work on operational concepts, bringing on real material solutions, bringing in new technology, and applying new ways of air-ground integration,” he said.
(Edited by Monami Gogoi)