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Soldiers from the Hawaii-based 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division returned this week from several weeks in India, part of a bilateral exercise designed to teach soldiers ways to handle insurgencies and work better with foreign forces.

Those skills soon may come in handy: The infantrymen from Schofield Barracks are preparing for a rotation to Iraq this year.

For the exercise, called Yudh Abhyas or “Training for War,” about 120 soldiers from Company C traveled to New Delhi for one day and then to a training area — elevation 7,000 feet — in the Himalayas for live-fire, urban assault and other tactical training, said Army spokesman Capt. Tage J. Rainsford.

Yudh Abhyas, a biennial event sponsored by the U.S. Army Pacific and the Indian army, is one of several exercises the U.S. military now holds with India, in addition to sea-based and air maneuver exercises.

January’s training was divided into two parts. In the first, U.S. and Indian soldiers learned about each other’s weapons and equipment and practiced on a live-fire range. They also learned about both nations’ experience with insurgencies — the U.S. experience in Afghanistan and Iraq and India’s experience in the province Kashmir.

For the second part, Rainsford said, soldiers took to forested areas to practice patrols, house-clearing operations and, at the end, establishing and protecting a remote company headquarters.

The U.S. participants also learned about their host nation. They spent their day in New Delhi visiting famous sites. On the exercise’s last day, they participated in a cultural exchange and joined an Army Day celebration with Indian troops.

Rainsford said the experience helped the U.S. soldiers learn to overcome language and cultural barriers while practicing battling insurgents — skills the unit will use when it deploys to Iraq, a move tentatively slated for this summer. The unit deployed last year to Afghanistan.

Rainsford said the training wasn’t specifically designed for Iraq — the exercise was planned long before the deployment was announced — but will help the unit’s members develop basic soldiering skills and the ability to work with other nation’s militaries.

“Being able to work with a different country” was a key part of the training, he said, “because that’s going to help the unit down the road.”


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