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Balance Iroquois

The Indo-US Defence co-operation which began in the sixties, lay dormant for nearly two decades-through the seventies and the eighties. It gained some momentum during the nineties wherein participation in the military-to-military interaction increased by way of seminars, workshops, joint training, military exercise observation and exchange of visits. However, there is now a fresh impetus and a new focus to exchange expertise between the air forces of the two countries.

Exercise Balance Iroquois (02-1) which commenced on May 16 last at Agra was a result of this new focus that covered two very vital and important aspects of any military cooperation-interoperability and joint operations. The special forces from India and the United States demonstrated their first joint wargames in 39 years. The aim of this exercise in which 90 troops from the US and about 150 from India took part, was to exchange expertise in the areas of special operations and airborne assault operations that include both paratrooping and paradropping. Based on this exercise, more interaction is sure to take place in future for mutual benefit.

In keeping with this ethos and operational philosophy, the USAF MC-130 H Hercules and the Indian Air Force AN-32 and IL-76 took part in this exercise. Military personnel were drawn from ODB 160, ODA 161 and ODA 162 of C 2/1 SFG (A) of the US Army and from 4 Para Battalion of 50 (I) Para Brigade of the Indian Army. The two air forces were represented by elements of 353 Special Operations Wing from the USAF and the elite Para Jump Instructors and aircrew of Air Force Station Agra viz PTS and 44 Squadron.

These professionals from the two armed forces operated together and got trained jointly in several areas of airborne assault operations. These included low level operations by day and night culminating in paradropping of airborne forces and heavy equipment directly into simulated battlefield areas. The highlight of the interoperability was marked when the US Army paratroopers, donning Indian parachutes, jumped from the AN-32 and the Indian paratroopers made exit from the Hercules wearing American parachutes. The synergy so achieved would lead to mutually beneficial transfer of skills in the areas of planning and executing tactical missions with greater accuracy and harder punch.

The highly skilled PJIs of Air Force Station, Agra who have already trained paratroops in Sri Lanka, Seychelles and Indonesia, looked towards honing the paratrooping skills on both sides. The versatility of AN-32 and Hercules was evident as they deftly manoeuvred on the Drop Zone to hit the bull's eye. The IL-76 demonstrated its awesome power and lift capability by dropping heavy platforms.

Balance Iroquois (02-1) was a small step forward in the military-to-military cooperation between the two great nations. Undertaking joint training and operations is expected to result in mutual understanding and appreciation of military ethos and operational philosophies of the two armed forces. 'The synergy and the enhanced fighting potential so achieved will ensure a greater stability and greater peace in the world", said Col Donald Zedler, the leader of the US contingent..

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:20:49 Zulu