Amid tensions with Pakistan, an Indian Army contingent is in Russia for Exercise Tsentr 2019, which began on Tuesday. The Armies of China and Pakistan, besides those of the Central Asian Republics, are taking part in it. At the same time, another Indian Army contingent is in the U.S. for Yudh Abhyas, an annual bilateral exercise.

Later this week, the Army will host the first conference of military medicine for the members of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO).

Yudh Abhyas is being held at Joint Base Lewis McChord at Tacoma, Washington, from September 5 to 18. Exercise Tsentr will go on till September 23 at the Donguz training ranges in Orenburg, a city in southwest Russia.

“Exercise Tsentr 2019 is aimed at evolving drills of the participating Armies and practising them in the fight against the scourge of international terrorism, thereby ensuring military security in the strategic Central Asian region,” the Indian Army said in a statement. The exercise will focus on evaluating the level of troop preparedness, acquisition of skills and raising the level of interoperability, and will demonstrate the readiness of the Armies, it said.

Exercise Tsentr is part of the Russian armed forces’ annual training cycle. It rotates through Russia’s four main operational strategic commands: Vostok (East), Zapad (West), Tsentr (Centre) and Kavkas (South). The exercise has become international over the years, with Belarus joining in 2017 and China and Mongolia in 2018. The participants this year are China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, besides Russia.

At the 15th edition of Yudh Abhyas, the U.S. Army is represented by a company of 5-20 Infantry Battalion, while the Indian side is represented by the Assam Regiment. “Both sides will jointly train, plan and execute a series of well-developed tactical drills for neutralisation of likely threats that may be encountered in UN peace keeping operations,” the Army said.

The U.S has been keen on expanding Yudh Abhyas by taking in Japan. Last year, when the exercise was held in India, the U.S. had requested that Japan be made an observer, but India did not accept the plea, official sources said.

Already, the Malabar naval games, which had been a bilateral naval exercise, is now trilateral. In December 2018, Japan joined Cope India, a bilateral air exercise, as an observer. After a couple of editions, Japan will become a full partner in the exercise, official sources said.

The conference of military medicine is scheduled for September 12 and 13. It will be the first military co-operation event hosted by India, under the SCO Defence Co-operation Plan 2019-2020, after it became a SCO member in 2017.