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 special 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. We show them the limits their body, mind and soul can take. It’s all about romancing dangers and risks,” says Col Deep Bhagat, Commander, CW, JLW.
“They are also given training in basic medical aspects and unarmed fighting. We are able to enhance the endurance, confidence and knowledge level of a solider so that he gets a complete insight of special mission,” says Lt Col Rajiv Sharan, Chief Instructor, CW.
(To be continued)