- Feb 23, 2009
No go-ahead from Ministry, so Navy opts out of US exercise
Leaving the US flummoxed, the Indian Navy pulled out of an amphibious exercise with American forces in Japan last week after it failed to get clearance from the Defence Ministry.
The amphibious assault exercise was scheduled to start in Okinawa last Friday and the Navy chose 12 senior officers for the war games. Officers were pulled out from various commands and called to Delhi for final documentation. But the Navy’s participation was called off days before their departure because permission did not come through from the Defence Ministry.
“The officers had been taken off duties, called to Delhi. Even the preparatory embarkment had been done but the permission did not come till the last moment,” a source said, adding that officers spent close to 10 days in Delhi, waiting for clearance.
While no explanation was given by the Defence Ministry for holding back the clearance, this is not the first time that Indo-US defence interactions have been called off by the Ministry this year.
At least four exercises, including the Okinawa war game, have been called off at the last minute this year despite being scheduled well in advance. In all cases, while the armed forces had committed troops and equipment, lack of permission from the Ministry led to cancellations.
In one case, the US even expressed dismay as it suffered a loss of several million dollars due to the last-minute cancellation of an exercise between the US Marines and Indian Navy. The exercise, which was scheduled to take place in India weeks before the Lok Sabha elections, was called off after troops and specialised equipment had been committed by the US. Another exercise was called off after the elections took place, sending conflicting signals.
This comes even as military ties between the India and the US have grown greatly in the last few years. In October, India will host what will be the biggest joint training exercise between the two nations that will also feature the largest deployment of US Stryker Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs) outside Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Yudh Abhyas exercise in Jhansi will involve close to 300 US personnel and 17 Stryker ICVs from the 25th Infantry Division of the US Army. The two nations will also engage in an air exercise — Cope India 2009 — in October that will feature its C-17 heavy transport aircraft as well as the smaller C-130 J aircraft that India has ordered for its special forces.