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Published in the 16-29 Feb 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

New force to combat militancy in Kashmir

New Delhi: Besides, lending its helicopters to combat militancy in J&K off and on, the Indian Air Force has now raised a dedicated commando force to tackle militancy in J&K and North-Eastern states. The new force will be used to neutralize militant hideouts and to undertake urban missions besides protecting the IAF's vital installations from militant attacks. The first batch of the force, christened "Garud", comprising 62 Air commandoes, passed out in the presence of senior Air Force officials here on Feb. 5. They will be positioned at various IAF stations. 

The force has been raised on the lines of Special Forces Commandoes of the Indian Army and MARCOS of the Indian Navy. Garud commandoes could be called upon to undertake missions like neutralising terrorist hideouts, combat search and rescue, paramilitary operations and other activities like helping in relief and rehabilitation in various emergencies and natural calamities. "The initial strength of the force would be around 1,080 divided into 15 different flights based at different IAF stations," Air Marshall Narayan Menon, Air Officer-in-Charge, Personnel, said. After induction, these airmen will undergo advanced training including anti-hijack and counter insurgency operations, jungle and snow survival techniques, specialised weapon handling and advanced driving skills, Menon added.

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