Hajin encounter: Elite IAF Garud commandoes suffered blow in their first operation

Sergeant Milind Kishor

Sergeant Milind Kishor

Defence spokesman said that Army today paid befitting tributes to two of its Indian Air Force comrades who attained martyrdom during Counter Terrorist operations in Bandipora on 11 Oct 2017. 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.

At the Pathankot airbase in Punjab, Corporal Gursewak Singh became the first Garud to fall to terrorist bullets.

The decision to impart "live situational training" was taken in the aftermath of the terror attack on Pathankot Air Force station during which Garuds came under severe criticism. Subsequently, in August this year two squads of Garuds with each squad consisting of one officer and 13 other ranks were embedded with Army. One of the teams, which is with 13 Rashtriya Rifles battalion at Hajjin, was involved in Wednesday's operation.

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The IAF said two terrorists, firing indiscriminately, ran towards the position of the Garud commandos, who challenged them and killed the two terrorists.

According to sources, following the terror attack at Pathankot Air Force Station in January 2016, the IAF chose to upgrade the training of its Garud commandos to be able to effectively tackle a jihadi terrorist threat and improve their security posture.

The Garud commanders are tasked with protecting all critical bases and installations of the IAF across the country.

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At present, the force has 1,000 Garuds and the IAF is now raising more squads with focus on anti-terror operations.

As a result, the government decided that Garuds would be deployed in counter-insurgency operations with the Army in Jammu and Kashmir to gain operational experience. They are specially trained to be a Quick Reaction Force at important IAF bases and protect IAF high value assets.Garuds have been effectively employed in Indian missions in support of the United Nations and during extrication of Indian nationals from war zones.

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