The two Garud commandos of the Indian Air Force (IAF) who died in a terrorist encounter in north Kashmir on Wednesday were part of a group that was undergoing Live Situation Training with the Army.
According to sources, following the terror attack at Pathankot Air Force Station in January 2016, the IAF decided to upgrade the training of its Garud commandos to be able to effectively tackle a jihadi terrorist threat and improve their security posture. As part of that plan, two squads of Garud commandos — of one officer and 13 air warriors each — were earmarked for on-the-job training with the Army.
At the Pathankot airbase in Punjab, Corporal Gursewak Singh became the first Garud to fall to terrorist bullets. The defence ministry had then ordered a review of the security of all military installations by a committee under Lt General Philip Campose (retd), and some of the recommendations of that committee are currently under implementation.
The six-month training for these two squads started in August, which included two-weeks of pre-induction training at Corps Battle School.
The two squads were then attached with the Rashtriya Rifles in north Kashmir. One of the teams, which is with 13 Rashtriya Rifles battalion at Hajjin, was involved in Wednesday’s operation.
The two squads currently operating with the Army in Kashmir are the first lot of Garuds undergoing this on-the-job training. This will be followed by the next batch of Garuds who will have a two-week overlap in the operational area with the current lot early next year.
The Garud force was established in September 2004 on the model of Israeli air force Special Forces Unit 5101 or Shaldag.