Of Three Elite Army Men and Their Making

Ubeer Naqushbandi

SRINAGAR

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Army’s wreath ceremony.

Three soldiers of an elite Army commando force including two officers were killed in a fierce gun battle with militants at Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) building in Pampore area of Pulwama district.

The slain included Army captain Pawan Kumar, a resident of Jind in Haryana; Captain Tushar Mahajan, 26, of Aadarsh Colony Udhampur and Lance Naik Om Prakash, 32, a resident of Shimla district in Himachal Pradesh.

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Army while paying tribute to the slain trio, hailed them for their “exemplary valour” and “courage” to counter the militants holed up in EDI complex.

Born to a family of educationists from Udhampur, Captain Tushar Mahajan is proudly remembered by his peers for his indomitable spirit and a very high camaraderie quotient, the army said in a statement.

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“Commissioned at the young age of 21 years in 2010, passion for adventure of this son of the soil led him to join the elite Special Forces where ‘Balidaan’ is the motto they live and serve by. He was an expert combat deep sea diver trained for special operations. The martyr is survived by his parents and a younger brother who is pursuing his education abroad,” said Srinagar-based army PRO, Col NN Joshi.

The 32 years old Lance Naik Om Prakash was a seasoned commando with 13 years of operational experience, Col Joshi said.

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“He had been wounded earlier in 2005 when he had saved a comrade during a counter terrorist operation. Later, again for his gallantry in similar operations, he was awarded with the ‘Asadharan Suraksha Seva Praman Patra’ by the Prime Minister of India on 15 Aug 2013.” Late Lance Naik Om Prakash, said Col Joshi, hailed from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh and is survived by his parents, wife and two 7 and 3 years old daughters.

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Another slain elite commando Capt Pawan Kumar was born on Jan15, 1993 coinciding with Army day and was considered as one of the army’s finest counterinsurgent commando.

All the three elite commandos belonged to India’s “finest” paramilitary unit men called Parachute Commando. While the loss has apparently sent army’s rank and file into deep mourning, it is the making of these “state-of-the-art” commando force that has stirred anguish in army.

Making into these combatants comes after strenuous training and huge cost.

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After a seven-month-long selection process, the Special Force cadets undergo one of the exhaustive and rigorous training programmes in the world. Trainees are exposed to sleep deprivation, humiliation, and exhaustion, mental and physical torture. Deaths have occurred during the selection process itself with the attrition rate said to be 90-95 per cent.

Initial training period is 3.5 years, during which they are taught specialised modes of infiltration and ex-filtration, either by air (combat free-fall) or sea (combat diving). Daily routine involves a 20-km morning run. Infiltration, ex-filtration, assault, room and building intervention, intelligence gathering, patrolling, ambush tactics, counter-ambush tactics, counter insurgency, unconventional warfare, guerrilla warfare, asymmetric warfare, raids & sabotage, martial arts training, advance weapon courses etc.

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The training drills involve live ammunition at all times. Night and weapons training and field craft involving 20-km treks with 60 kg (132 lb.) loads and live ammunition are conducted. Weekly forced marches with 65 kg combat loads with distances over 50 to 80 miles and quarterly night drops with full combat loads are also conducted.

The slain trio.
The slain trio.

The budget that is spent on one Para-commando is thirteen crore rupees. India currently has strength of 1200 Para-commandos. In this latest encounter India’s economy is believed to have received heavy loss, both in terms of men and money.

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