By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News ServiceBangalore: "We make men out of boys," – reads a massive board at the the entrance of the Commando Wing (CW), one of the most-discreet units of Indian Army, situated in Belgaum. It is here that the advanced lessons in undercover operations are taught to the fittest and finest soldiers, who get enrolled for a 35-day commando course. Express was recently given access to some of the round-the-clock activities inside the CW, consisting of outdoor and indoor exercises.
Part of the Junior Leaders Wing (JLW), the CW is spread across vintage buildings of British era and imparts training to officers, non-commissioned officers, para-military forces and friendly foreign nations on a regular basis. The JLW is part of the Infantry School at Mhow and the commando course is mandatory for all infantry and mechanised forces. Among the highlights of the commando course are: jumping from high walls, walking on narrow platforms and beams, slithering from helicopters, endurance runs (10 km to 40 km) carrying complete battle load and personal weapons, battle obstacle courses, rock-climbing, rapelling, combat firing, suvival missions and lecture demonstrations.
Maj Gen Chandra Shekhar, Commander, JLW, says that passing the commando course is just one milestone a solider crosses. “We impart special skills using most-optimum use of ground and they get sharpened when the commandos repeat the process again and again. It's all about how much extremes your body and mind can handle. No two situations in life or war can be similar. It's not a mathematical formulae that they should apply. We always remind the commandos that tough times don't last, but tough people do,” says Maj Gen Chandra Shekhar. He said a good commando has to be a good human being first, possessing qualities like top class character, compassion, courage, competence, commitment and finally charisma.
As part of the special mission training to enhance the combat edge, small teams are formed and sent to jungles and varied kinds of terrains. This exercise, said to be the most toughest part of the course, may vary from one to three days. “Warfare is all about confidence. We break the biological timings, deprive a commando of sleep and put him through a timetable that's not told to him till the last moment. We make him do all things which he hasn't done before. No plans are known to anyone. We show them the limits their body, mind and soul can take. It's all about romancing dangers and risks. It's all about feeling for the nation. We have done it and now it's their turn,” says Col Deep Bhagat, Commander, CW, JLW.
In addition, there are planned exercises in simulated battle conditions. The commandos are also trained in different kinds of military explosives and they are given valuable survival tips in hostile conditions (to be featured in later part of of this series). “They are also given training in basic medical aspects and unarmed fighting (if the weapon malfunctions). We are able to enhance the endurance, confidence and the knowledge levels of a solider so that he gets a complete insight of special mission and covert operations. Among the many tests a commando has to pass in the beginning of the course is the BPET (Battle Proficiency Efficiency Test),” says Lt Col Rajiv Saharan, Chief Instructor, CW.
The BPET consists of a 5-km run with weapons (5kg) and battle load (3.5kg); climbing vertical rope and horizontal rope; jumping fire ditches with battle load; 60-m sprint and swimming in battle fatigue (uniform, shoes and the like).
(To be continued)
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