Ghurkhas Train with U.S. Soldiers in India
Dec 03, 2007
BY Staff Sgt. Matthew MacRoberts
CHAUBATTIA, India (Army News Service, Dec. 3, 2007) – More than 120 U.S. Soldiers trained in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains with their Indian counterparts during Exercise Yudh Abhyas in November, building on existing skills and sharing tactics.
Participation of the 25th Infantry Division Soldiers from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, in the exercise demonstrates the command’s ability to deploy as the northwest power projection platform, officials said.
The C Company “Gimlets,”3/ 21st Infantry, spent about a week training in a cantonment area before relocating and conducting a field training exercise. In cantonment, classes were conducted by the ghurkhas to familiarize C Co. with how the 5th Ghurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) conducts searches, raids and other counter-insurgency activities in a low-intensity insurgency. The Gimlets demonstrated for their hosts how the American Army handles deliberate attacks and other standard infantry operations in high-intensity insurgency environments.
The FTX ncluded various low-intensity, counter-insurgent actions; such as raids, civic assistance missions and quick reaction team operations.
“We get to train (here) in the night, and in an environment that we don’t get to in Alaska,” said C Co., 1st Sgt. Richard Beaver, who is from Hunnewell, Mo.
He said by exchanging platoons, both countries gain valuable training experience and may discover new tactics that will benefit their soldiers in combat.
“It lets our Soldiers see other countries are as proficient as we are,” said Beaver. “They may just have a different way of doing things. Their job is to train and go to war, just like us.”
The training is taking place at an altitude of more than 6,500 feet and is demanding for the American troops.
“The first few days when we were here running up the smallest slope or up stairs, it winded us,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Gobeil, a Stryker Mobile Gun System vehicle commander and a Roseau, Minn. native.
But this allowed the Gimlets to push themselves harder in the thinner air, resulting in training they said not only taxed the mind – but pushed their bodies to their limits.
“Seeing our Indian counterparts not being tired has pushed us to follow an old motto of ‘suck it up and drive on’ when simple things seem difficult because of the altitude,” Staff Sgt. Gobeil said.
One of the ways they helped adjust their bodies to the changes was by playing organized sports with the Indian soldiers: soccer, basketball, volleyball and handball (a hybrid game of soccer and football).
“The cardiovascular workout helps us get acclimated quicker to the altitude,” said Pfc. Benjamin Welch, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3-21st, and a Wooster, Ohio native.
In addition to standard military training and exercise, the Gimlets were exposed to yoga by participating in morning sessions with the Ghurkha soldiers – led by a special physical fitness cadre of master yoga instructors.
“Limberness and range of motion is something we may not always stress, and yoga is a time proven method to enhance these health qualities,” said Capt. Bob Hilleman, the physician assistant for 3-21st, and a native of Iowa City, Iowa.
The cantonment area the Gimlets trained in has a long and storied past. Originally established by the British Army more than 130 years ago, it is now occupied by several Indian Army units. The hospital here uses buildings built by the British when they established the cantonment area.
Less than 50 meters from the building the Soldiers from C Co. lived in, a monument stands on the roadside that memorializes the British establishment of the base in Chaubattia.
The Gimlets are now returning home having, “learned a great deal from the Indian Army’s counter-insurgency experiences,” said Capt. Tom Hando, Charlie Company’s commander. “The Ghurkhas go back to 1881 here. These soldiers are legendary – they are tough, hard, natural warriors that don’t know the word ‘quit’ and are extremely skilled.”
(Staff Sgt. Matthew MacRoberts serves with the 20th PAD.)
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