Ever since the standoff between the Indian and Chinese forces at Galwan on the intervening night of June 15 and 16, television channels have been rife with the term ‘hand-to-hand combat’ or “gutham-gutha” as commentators described the violent skirmishes between the two forces. The Indian Express explains what it means for the Indian armed forces.
The Indian army is an armed force and therefore its primary emphasis is on training its men and women in the use of weapons. Though soldiers are taught unarmed combat as part of various courses, the stress is on weapons training. Besides rifles, carbines and pistols issued to every soldier and officer, an infantry battalion has numerous crew-served weapons like an MMG (medium machine gun), AGL(automatic grenade launcher), missile launchers, rocket launchers, 51mm mortars, 81mm mortars, MGL(multi grenade launcher) etc.
Every soldier and officer is also issued a bayonet along with an assault rifle. He is trained to use the bayonet especially in a close combat situation or during an assault on enemy defences once he comes into close proximity with the enemy.
A rifle, a carbine or a sidearm are issued to soldiers in all units of the army, be it an artillery regiment (which uses long range artillery guns like 105mm field guns, 155mm gun howitzers etc), Armoured regiment (which has tanks ), Mechanised Infantry regiment (which has Infantry combat vehicles), Engineer/Signal/Army Air Defence regiments or the logistics units like the Army Service Corps/Army Ordnance Corps/Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Corps etc.
With increasing modernisation, training for a hand-to-hand combat is given much lower priority as the focus of the armed forces is on using arms as a primary mode of combat. Entire units are formed around these weapon systems.
The Ghatak platoons of Infantry battalions (trained for special missions) do emphasise on unarmed combat apart from training in other military skills. Unarmed combat(UAC) also forms a part of army courses like the Ghatak(Commando) course, Counter insurgency and jungle warfare course.
Special Forces (SF), however, lay a lot of emphasis on unarmed combat and train their soldiers in martial arts and other techniques of neutralising an opponent.
As a routine, all units and formations regularly have boxing and wrestling competitions beginning from inter-platoon, inter-company, inter-battalion and at formation level.
While Central Armed Police Forces are trained in baton charging and use of tear gas equipment for crowd control, when the army is called in, it uses only weapons. Use of battons and sticks does not form part of the armed forces training. Armed forces are the nation’s last bastion of defence and that’s why all nations do their best to equip their armies with the best possible weapon systems to counter their enemies.
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