Five things to know about IAF’s Garud commandos
The Indian Air Force which raised the Garud commandos in 2004 for counter-terror operations, plans to expand the force with ten more units.india Updated: Oct 13, 2017 11:22 IST
The Bandipora encounter in Kashmir in which two Indian Air Force commandos were killed on Wednesday has turned the focus on the IAF’s elite Garud commando force.
The two commandos were killed in an encounter during a cordon-and-search operation in Bandipora’s Hajin village. Sergeant K. Milind Kishor, 33, had joined the IAF in 2002. He was from Maharashtra. Corporal Nilesh Kumar Nayan, 31, who joined the force in 2005 was from Bihar.
Here are five things you should know about the Garud commando force:
The IAF raised its elite Garud commando force to protect vital installations and to carry out counter-terror operations in 2004. The move came three years after four militants, armed with Kalashnikovs and grenades, attempted to force their way into the IAF’s Awantipur fighter base near Srinagar in broad daylight. They were all killed.
The two commandos killed this week were part of a squad that had been attached with the army since August 2017 for counter-terrorism duties. This is the first time Garuds have lost their lives fighting militants in Jammu and Kashmir. Corporal Gursewak Singh was the first Garud commando to have lost his life while fighting terrorists during the 2016 terror attack on the Pathankot air base. The IAF took the initiative to give more exposure to Garuds after the Pathankot strike.
While the IAF has Garud, the army and navy have their own special force units. The army has its Para-Special Forces while the navy’s toughest fighting men are called Marcos or marine commandos. The army’s Para-SF units had carried out surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in September 2016. A Marcos team is deployed in Kashmir’s Wular lake for counter-terror operations.
The IAF’s Garud commando units consist of around 1,000 men who specialize in protecting vital assets of the air force such as fighter bases, aircraft and ammunition holding areas. The force is pursuing plans to expand the size of its commando wing. The IAF plans to induct at least 10 more units of Garud commandos with 70-80 men each to secure its bases.
The Garud commandos use a variety of weapons. These include Glock pistols, Tavor TAR-21 assault rifles, Galil sniper rifles and Negev machine guns. Their roles include hostage rescue and operating behind enemy lines.