3 minute readMeanwhile, in Alaska…

Indian army soldiers guard a hostage for a cordon-and-search demonstration during a US Army Alaska and Indian army combined raid training drill. Photo: Specialist Ashley M. Armstrong

Indian troops in Alaska have been exercising with the US Army in a joint exercise that kicked off last week. This has included drills in cordon and search operations as well as airborne operations.

Soldiers from US Army Alaska and the Indian Army teamed up to play basketball and dodge ball. Photo: Specialist Ashley M. Armstrong

But it hasn’t been all work and no play. Both sides find time to relax with sports and, actually, the Indians might not have missed home too much.

Indian Army soldiers light candles for Diwali at the Wilderness Inn dining facility on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Photo: Specialist Ashley M. Armstrong

The Indian paratroopers, also took a break from Yudha Abhyas (War Exercise) 2010 to celebrate Diwali with their US hosts. Specialist Ashley M. Armstrong, of the US Army’s 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command writes that ‘Soldiers from US Army Alaska were given that experience when they were invited to celebrate the Diwali festival Nov. 5 with soldiers of the Indian army at the Wilderness Inn dining facility on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska’. Armstrong says there was an exchange of sweets, dancing and dinner at the celebration.

Sergeant Lindsay Ebert, 79th Special Troops Battalion (California National Guard) takes some Indian food during Diwali celebrations. Photo: Specialist Ashley M. Armstrong

The Indian contingent has been helped along in its interaction with their US counterparts by two sisters of Indian origin in the US Army. Armstrong, pointing out that ‘Military operations between two nations can be challenging with the diversity of language, cultures and traditions’, wrote that ‘US Army Alaska found an untraditional method of alleviating those challenges when they discovered India-born sisters Corporal Balreet Kaur and Specialist Jasleen Kaur, both medics for the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (National Guard), who serve as cultural liaisons between the armies of India and the United States during exercise Yudh Abhyas 2010’.

India-born sisters Corporal Balreet Kaur and Specialist Jasleen Kaur, both medics for the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (California National Guard), compare common courtesies of the United States and India with an Indian Army soldier. Photo: Specialist Ashley M. Armstrong

The sisters who serve as medics, also speak Hindi, and were ‘specifically chosen for the exercise because of their background, knowledge and experience’. “Our commander knew that the Indian army and the US Army were working together and he wanted something beyond just the exercise. He wanted the cultural aspect to mesh as well,” Armstrong quoted Jasleen.

Corporal Balreet Kaur, a medic for the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (California National Guard), discusses her heritage with an Indian Army soldier. Photo: Specialist Ashley M. Armstrong

She wrote that ‘Jasleen and Balreet have provided guidance to USARAK on different accommodations that were necessary for the Indian soldiers to feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment’.

Cpl. Balreet Kaur, a medic for the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (California National Guard), discusses exercise communication procedures with an Indian Army soldier. Photo: Specialist Ashley M. Armstrong

“In India, most people shower with buckets that we fill with tap water and we use a mug to scoop the water out, so they wanted to make sure that the Indian soldiers in the field had the right resources – in this case mugs – for proper hygiene,” said Balreet to Armstong.

“They really have given 110 percent here. They have even offered Indian meals at the chow hall,” added Jasleen to her. According to Armstrong, ‘the sisters and their family left India in 2001 because of religious conflict in their home village and they haven’t returned since

  5 comments for “3 minute readMeanwhile, in Alaska…

  1. Ms Bluesky27
    November 16, 2010 at 5:50 am

    How about attacks against Sikhs in 1984, what would you call that? Also, how does this describe Sikhs to be cowardly? They are in the US military, one obviously deployed somewhere as you can tell by the patch on her right arm… joining the military is anything BUT cowardly. So, before you have something ignorant to say, i suggest you keep your comments to yourself.

  2. November 8, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Yes, it is curious isn’t it Loveleen? Well spotted.

  3. Loveleen
    November 8, 2010 at 10:28 am

    “According to Armstrong, ‘the sisters and their family left India in 2001 because of religious conflict in their home village and they haven’t returned since.”

    First, this suggests Sikhs are cowardly and they are anything but. I can’t imagine what kind of religious conflict in their village would have caused the family to leave India itself. Clearly an excuse for immigration and the INS swallowed it hook line and sinker.

So what do you think?