One of the tenets of a commando is ‘live to fight another day.’ Every soldier who arrives at the Commando Wing (CW) in Belgaum is prepared to face a worst case scenario; that is the best preparation.
A commando has to ‘fight to survive’ and ‘survive to win.’ He can never afford to lose. Having learnt various commando techniques to operate behind enemy lines, skills to survive form the final piece of the commando training at CW. These skills may not overtly aid in carrying out a task, but are the most essential and helpful in adverse situations. A commando has to master jungle skills to survive in inhospitable terrain and weather. He has to be in touch with his animal instincts. During their survival skills training, commandos are taught how to build shelters, procure water, make fires, navigate, make traps and snares, track and finally obtain food from flora and fauna.
“Shelters protect from weather, insects, animals and enemy observation. It helps conserve energy. We teach our students to build debris huts, swamp beds and improvisations of a poncho,” Captain V K Pandey, Instructor, CW, tells Express.
Procurement of potable water is a pivotal aspect of survival. Water obtained from a solar still or plant sources like banana or cacti can be directly consumed. Various means of purifying water such as boiling, use of bleaching powder, chlorine tablets and distillation are taught to student during the course.
The ability to start a fire in adversity could make the difference between life and death. “Fire can be started using flint and steel, lighter, chemicals and a magnifying glass. For a soldier, fire can be a bane as smoke and light can alert enemies. Techniques to conceal fire and smoke are crucial lessons and are taught in detail,” says Captain Pandey.
A commando does not ask “What’s on the menu?” “Edibility test for plants comes very handy when one is not sure about them. Skills to prepare an animal can come handy and have saved lives of non vegetarians. Taste and choice have no place while on a mission,” he said.