Snipers matching fire with fire
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Snipers matching fire with fire

The restricted operational environment of the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K means that special measures have to be taken to deal effectively with the enemy, retaliate against him and cause attrition. Both sides have very strong fixed, built-up defences with most weapons emplacements being housed in formidable, concretised shelters, making them impregnable except to heavy artillery.Mandeep Singh Bajwa writes

chandigarh Updated: Aug 14, 2012 12:00 IST

The restricted operational environment of the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K means that special measures have to be taken to deal effectively with the enemy, retaliate against him and cause attrition. Both sides have very strong fixed, built-up defences with most weapons emplacements being housed in formidable, concretised shelters, making them impregnable except to heavy artillery.

In such a scenario, it makes it quite impossible to cause casualties among the enemy. While fire assaults using infantry weapons are common, they cause little damage to the adversary. The Indian Army has been known to haul even the ZU-23-2 23-mm towed twin-barrel air defence gun to pickets along the LoC, house them in concrete shelters and use them effectively against enemy troops and non-concrete defence emplacements.

However, there are always innovative methods in use to cause attrition among the enemy forces and deter them from misadventures. Sources in Pakistan reveal that numerous casualties have been caused among their troops by Indian sniper teams using the Russian Dragunov sniper rifle that uses the 7.62x54-mmR cartridge.

Lying patiently in wait for targets of opportunity sometimes for hours together, camouflaged and concealed with skill, the sniper and his buddy, the spotter, are a different breed of men. Their success in operations along the LoC validates the emphasis laid in recent years by the army on marksmanship and the attention given to the training, doctrine, equipment, ethos and tactical deployment of sniper teams.

Legacy of valour
A mighty oak of the warrior fraternity was felled by Father Time last Monday. Colonel Shamsher Singh (born 1916) joined the Patiala State Forces as a JCO Cadet in 1938. He was commissioned into the 1st Patiala Rajindra Lancers in 1941, serving with them during World War-II.

After transfer to the 1st Patiala Rajindra Sikh Infantry, he fought with them during the First Kashmir War (1947-48) as second-in-command (2IC), being mentioned in despatches for his leadership in the Battle of Zoji La where the Patialas performed superlatively, winning eight Maha Vir Chakras and 18 Vir Chakras.

Transferred to the Sikh Regiment in 1952, he commanded its 17th and 18th Battalions and had two stints as Commandant of the Regimental Centre, as a Lt Col in 1959-63 and as a full Col in 1965-66. After retirement from the army, he set up the Border Security Force training centre at Jalandhar and together with the legendary Ashwini Kumar, laid the foundations of the formidable BSF sports teams in hockey, football and many other disciplines.

There was no rest for him after final retirement from government service in 1971. He was elected sarpanch of Mahadian, his native village in Fatehgarh Sahib district, unopposed for three terms, setting new standards of infrastructure development during his tenure and ensuring consolidation of shamlat land. Any ex-serviceman could approach him for help with his problems with the confidence that the Col would go out of his way to resolve them. It was a life well spent in the service of others.

His leadership style was exemplary in the extreme and marked by a deep feeling for the welfare and well-being of his men. They would follow him anywhere! His legacy of caring for the men under his command and strong leadership was carried forward by his sons, Maj Gen CS Panag and Lt Gen HS Panag, and now his grandson Col Vikram Panag.

Samba incident
The jury is still out on the recent Samba incident with rumours and wild tales adding to the confusion. But one thing is certain: commanding troops in the old way is out. Not that the old values of loyalty, trust, looking after troops’ comfort and their interests and exemplary behaviour practiced by officers commanding soldiers are wrong or outdated, but the soldiers themselves have changed.

Nowadays soldiers are better educated, more aware, more assertive and sensitive. Officers must sensitise themselves accordingly. The old values and systems must be retained; these have proved their worth over time. But there must be a new realisation of the changing nature of the troops and the new dynamics evolved to deal with the emerging scenarios. If the army does not take corrective measures, it could cost the nation dearly.

INS Rajput
The Indian Navy currently has the most up-to-date technology among the three services with constant upgrades and modernisation taking place among its fleet. INS Rajput (pennant no. D51), the lead ship in the Rajput class of guided missile destroyers (modified versions of the Soviet Kashin class), commissioned on September 30, 1980, is a prime example. Other ships in this class are INS Rana (D52), INS Ranjit (D53), INS Ranvir (D54) and INS Ranvijay (D55). INS Rajput as well as the class as a whole has seen a number of changes to weapons and equipment systems in keeping with advances in technology.

The forward cells for the P-20 anti-shipping missiles (AShMs) aboard the Rajput have been replaced with two boxed launchers for four PJ-10 (BrahMos) anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). INS Rajput served as the trials ship for the naval version of the missile, which can be fitted with a nuclear or conventional payload of 200 kg. The missile has a range of 300 km travelling at a height of 14,000 metres or 120 km at 10-15 metres above surface level. The BrahMos is believed to have a first stage solid-fuelled booster and a second stage liquid-fuelled ramjet.

Mid-life refits saw the last two vessels of this class, INS Ranvir and INS Ranvijay, replacing a pair of their AK-630M gunmounts (a close in weapon (CIWS) system based on a six-barrelled 30-mm Gatling gun meant as the last ditch defence against enemy missiles) with the Israeli Barak SAM (surface to air missile) with fire control provided by a pair of EL/M-2221 STGR radars replacing the MR-123 fire control radars.

The Indian Navy is planning to upgrade the propulsion of the Rajput class with the indigenously developed Kaveri Marine Gas Turbine (KMGT) engine, developed by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment of the DRDO and currently in testing phase. Using the core of the Kaveri engine, scientists of GTRE have added a low-pressure compressor and turbine as a gas generator and designed a free power turbine to generate shaft power for maritime application. With the development of this engine, India will become self-reliant in the technology of gas turbines for ship propulsion.

New electronic warfare equipment was fitted in 1993-94 with the Rajput getting the Ajanta EW suite indigenously manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd. The INS Rajput and its sister ships are expected to carry part of India’s strategic second-strike capability, making them a vital part of the navy’s fleet.

IAF appointments
Air Marshal Jasvinder Chauhan took over as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Central Air Command at Bamrauli near Allahabad. An NDA graduate, he was commissioned as a fighter pilot in June 1975 and has over 3,500 hours of flying to his credit in various types of fighter, helicopter and trainer aircraft. He is a recipient of the Vishisht Seva Medal and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal.

Air Marshal Paramjit Singh Gill assumed the appointment of SASO (Senior Air Staff Officer - chief of staff) at HQ Western Air Command, Delhi. He is an alumnus of NDA and was commissioned in 1975 in the fighter stream. The Air Marshal is experienced in the Gnat and MiG 23 BN aircraft. He has more than 1,000 hours of instructional flying experience out of 4,000 hours of total flying. He is an alumnus of the Defence Services Staff College, Higher Command and National Defence College.

First Published: Aug 14, 2012 11:54 IST