The joint exercises with India would focus on high-altitude warfare and come amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.
The US and Indian armies will hold joint exercises in the Himalayan mountains in October, less than 100 km from the disputed India-China border, CNN reported. The location was announced amid heightened tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan, as India and China clashed along their mountainous border.
The exercises will take place in mid-October near the town of Auli in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, an Indian army officer told CNN on Saturday. Auli is on the southern slopes of the Himalayas, and the exercises will focus on warfare at an altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 meters).
Auli is also located about 95 kilometers (59 miles) from the Line of Actual Control, a loosely defined border that separates India and China. While both sides claim territory on the other side of this line, it has served as the de facto border between the two countries since the end of the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
Fighting broke out along this line in 2020 after China objected to India building a road through its claimed territory. India said it lost about 20 soldiers, while China said it lost four.
Tensions have remained high along the line ever since, with India accusing China in May of building a bridge across territory it considers under “illegal occupation”.
Relations between the United States and China have also deteriorated significantly following a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan this week. Beijing responded to the visit by launching large-scale military exercises, reducing imports from Taiwan, sanctioning Pelosi and his family and severing diplomatic ties with Washington in a number of key areas.
While Taiwan has governed itself since 1949, China claims sovereignty over the island. The United States recognizes this sovereignty as part of the one-China policy, but given Pelosi’s status as the most senior US lawmaker and member of the same political party as President Joe Biden, Beijing perceived the visit as “a serious offence” of this policy.
As Chinese military exercises continue over the weekend, White House national security chief John Kirby announced on Thursday that the United States would lead “air and sea transit” across the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks, while the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group will remain stationed in the area.
As both sides show military strength, Politico reported Friday that Chinese defense officials are ignoring phone calls from their American counterparts.
General Charles Flynn, commander of the US Army Pacific, told reporters in June that the drills would involve air force units from the United States and India, and serve as a “counterweight” and one “deterrent” to China’s activity along the disputed border. The upcoming Himalayan exercises are part of an annual US-India exercise, held last year in Alaska.