The United States will hold joint military drills with India less than 100 kilometers from the disputed border with China. The military drills will take place at an altitude of 10,000 feet in Auli in the Indian state of Uttarakhand and will focus on high-altitude warfare training, according to a senior Indian Army officer with knowledge of the matter.
Since a bloody clash between their soldiers in the Himalayas in June 2020 left at least 20 Indian troops and four Chinese soldiers dead, relations between India and China have been strained. Tensions have been raised further recently by China building a bridge across the Pangong Tso lake that sits along the border—a move condemned by the Indian government as an “illegal occupation.” During a visit to India this year, the US Army’s Pacific Commanding General Charles Flynn described China’s military build-up near the disputed border as “alarming.” Asked about the joint exercises, a US Department of Defense spokesperson told CNN that the partnership with India was “one of the most important elements of our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
An important part of this effort is organizing exercises and training events as well as Yudh Abhyas, an annual bilateral exercise designed to improve interoperability and raise each of our respective capabilities to handle regional security challenges.
Line of Actual Control
The loosely-defined, de facto border between India and China emerged out of a long-standing territorial dispute between those two nations. Its exact location is obscure, and there is still controversy as to where China ends and India begins.
In June 2020, Indian and Chinese soldiers fought with fists, stones, and nail-studded bamboo poles in a bloody brawl that killed at least 20 Indian soldiers. Although tensions have since eased, both sides maintain a large troop presence in the border region. The risk of potential miscalculation in the event of sudden and unexpected clashes remains.