What Is The Ghatak Platoon?

Indian Army's elite force Ghatak

Ghatak, meaning ‘lethal’ in Hindi, true to its name is one of the two elite forces present in every infantry battalion of the Indian Army that act as shock troops and spearhead assaults ahead of the battalion. In the recent Indo-China skirmish, the Ghatak platoons played a vital role in fighting the Chinese side.

Crux of the Matter

Strengths & Capabilities
Ghatak platoon consists of 20 soldiers in approximately every 350 infantry battalions of the army i.e. nearly a total strength of 7000. Every platoon consists of a Commanding Captain, 2 non-commissioned officers and some specialised soldiers along with assault troopers.

Ghatak Commandos are capable of carrying out tasks such as special reconnaissance, raids on enemy artillery positions and directing artillery and air attacks on targets deep within enemy lines. Their operations are similar to the Ranger Regiments of the US Army and the Commando Ranger Regiments of the Republic of Korea Army.

Training
They undergo a 6-week Commando Training course in Belgaum, Karnataka. There is an upper age limit of 30 years in this 2 phase training of Acclimatization and High Altitude. They are rigorously trained for heliborne assault, rock climbing, mountain warfare, demolitions, bomb diffusion, advanced weapon training, and infantry tactics.

Some of the qualified soldiers are even sent to the High Altitude Warfare School and the Counterinsurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Kashmir. The most physically fit soldiers either volunteer or are selected to be a part of the Ghatak platoon and it is mandatory for all infantry officers to pass the Commando Training Course.

Weapons
Ghatak Commandos are armed with INSAS Assault Rifles, AKM Assault Rifles, Pika General Purpose Machine Gun, M4 Carbine, B&T MP9 Submachine Gun, IWI Tavor TAR-21 Assault Rifles, Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifle, SVD Dragunov Sniper Rifle, MP5 Submachine Gun and INSAS Light Machine Guns.

They are equipped with standard-issue camouflage and body armour along with sniper teams, light machine gunners, medics, and radio operators. Depending on the mission, they may carry ropes, climbing gear, grenades, rocket launchers, laser target designators, and night vision equipment.

Other Special Forces
Special Forces of India are organised, trained and equipped to conduct special operations in extreme conditions on land, water and air. Three branches of the India armed forces have separate special forces unit namely: Para SF of Indian Army; MARCOS of Indian Navy and Garuda Commando Force of Indian Air Force.

Para commandos recognised with their maroon beret uniforms were formed in 1966. This regiment has the honour of being conferred the Bravest of Brave distinction. Garuda Commando Force established in 2004 has over 1500 personnel. They have been deployed for UN peacekeeping missions in Congo.

MARCOS also called the Marine Commando Force was formed in 1987 to provide support to amphibious operations. They are also reputedly called the ‘Dadhiwala Fauj’ (The Bearded Army) by militants in Kashmir. Apart from these three forces, Indian forces also include COBRA Force, Special Frontier Force (SPF), and National Security Guard (NSG).

Stories of Bravery
Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists attacked the Army’s 12th Brigade in Uri on 18 September 2016. After which the Ghatak platoon from 6th Bihar and 10th Dogra battalions led by 4th and 9th battalions of the Special forces conducted surgical strikes on terror camps in PoK. The Ghatak platoons were used in the flanking role as they are well versed with the areas across the LoC and are better acclimatized.

Captain Neikezhakuo Kenguruse was the Ghatak platoon commander during a night operation during Operation Vijay in 1999 during the Kargil War. After sustaining a bullet wound, he continued the operation and shot two men and killed two others using his knife in hand to hand combat. He was posthumously awarded the Mahavir Chakra.

In the very recent clash between India and China, the Ghatak commandos were part of the patrolling and backup team on the LAC.

Curiopedia
  • Lieutenant Colonel Mitali Madhumita, commissioned in 2000, is the first woman officer in India to receive a gallantry award, who received the Sena Medal in 2011 for exemplary courage shown during the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul by terrorists in Kabul, Afghanistan.
  • General Bipin Chandra Joshi, PVSM, AVSM, ADC was the 17th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Indian Army. General B. C. Joshi has been a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal for distinguished service of the most exceptional order. He gave the name to Ghatak Platoon.
  • INSAS. an abbreviation of INdian Small Arms System is a family of infantry arms consisting of an assault rifle and a light machine gun (LMG). The INSAS assault rifle is the standard infantry weapon of the Indian Armed Forces and manufactured by the Ordnance Factories Board.

SC combats with centre to allow women in combat roles

Women Army Officer

In a turning moment for the Indian military, the Supreme Court slammed the Center for resisting the implementation of Delhi HC verdict on its 2010 order for granting permanent commission to women Army officers. It added that the submissions of Centre against it were based on “sex stereotypes”. The court has ordered the implementation of changes within three months. A woman colonel would then be able to command a battalion, which is the first level of independent command in the Army.

Crux of the Matter

Women in Combat Roles Globally
Eight nations including Canada, Denmark, Australia, France, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, and Norway send women in combat roles. When women officially became eligible for these positions in the American military in 2013, it was widely hailed as another step towards the equality of sexes. In 2018, the UK military followed suit by lifting a ban on women serving in close combat ground roles, clearing the way for them to serve in elite special forces.

The Centre for Military Readiness of the US, stated in an article on 1 April 2013, “Since the attack on America on September 11, 2001, a total of 149 women deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria have lost their lives in service.” Most servicewomen were killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and some died in military plane crashes, which implies that casualties due to live combat were extremely rare.

Here Hails Rani Lakshmibai
In India, woman officers can serve for 10-14 years in the Short Service Commission (SSC). Indian Air Force had 13.09% and 8.5%, Indian Navy 6% and 2.8% women, and Indian Army 3.80% and 3% in December 2018 and December 2014 respectively. In 1888, the role of women in the Indian army began when the “Indian Military Nursing Service” was formed during the British Raj.

Noor Inayat Khan of Indian and American descent was a British heroine of World War II renowned for her service in the Special Operations Executive. Dr. Seema Rao, also known as “India’s Wonder Woman“, is India’s first woman commando trainer, having trained over 15,000 Special Forces of India. Until now, there was no option to allow women in combat roles like infantry, armored, mechanized infantry, aviation, and artillery.

Centre’s Policy
On February 25, 2019, the Centre had taken a policy decision to grant Permanent Commission to SSC Women Officers in 8 streams of Indian Army which were: Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Army Air Defence, Electronic and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Army Service Corps, Army Ordinance Corps and Intelligence, in addition to Judge Advocate General and Army Educational Core (AEC).

But this was not extended to SSCWOs who had put in more than 14 years of service. The government had told the Supreme Court that “troops are not yet mentally schooled to accept women officers in command of units” since they are “predominantly drawn from a rural background”. The physical capabilities of women, the composition of the rank and file and psychological realities were put into limelight.

SC’s Fitting Reply
Asserting that the government’s arguments were discriminatory and based on stereotype, the SC said women who have served less than 14 years in the SSC can have the option of permanent commission. It also rejected the center’s arguments of social norms for denying permanent commission to women officers.

Physiological features of women have no link to their rights. The mindset must change.

– Justice D Y Chandrachud & Ajay Rastogi

The written submissions have referred to examples of women officers such as Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal, Divya Ajit Kumar, IAF officer Gunjan Saxena, who have received gallantry awards for their bravery during combat operations.

Curiopedia

Combat roles are those that involve engaging and fighting the enemy either in person or by using specialized equipment. A combat mission officer ensures that all things are in their proper places and are available at the time they are needed during military operations. They specialize their training according to their area of expertise, which also determines the setting for their training. Since every aspect of the battle has to be analysed to the smallest detail, some work in offices in command centers, and others choose to work outdoors in training drills and in actual combat situations. More Info

CDS Aims Theatre Commands By Rejigging Indian Military

CDS Rawat in talks for Theatre Commands

To integrate the operations of the Indian Army, Air Force, and Navy, India is set to begin operationalizing Military Theatre Commands three years from now which will be the biggest restructuring in India’s military history.

Crux of the Matter

Preliminary discussions between the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat and the 3 service chiefs have paved way for beginning the process of setting up the Commands within a fixed time period.

Significant cost-cutting is expected to be achieved through common store management, shared bases, maintenance stocks and the utilization of similar weapons. The indigenous manufacturing of ammunition to a very high standard would also help to bring down costs.

CDS said that his immediate priorities are to minimize wastages, prevent overstocking supplies and if possible start ‘nil stocking’ of supplies which are immediately available from commercial vendors.

Theatre Commands
India would have a Peninsula Command, an Air Defence Command and Space Command and a multi-service Logistics Command and Training Command. The exact number of these Theatre Commands is not yet decided.

Each Theatre Command is expected to have an integral Air Force element and additional aircraft could be deployed depending on the requirement.

One of the far-reaching proposals is linked to the need of cutting down on the Rs 1.33 lakh crore pension budget of the Indian Armed forces that would enable non-officer ranks to be employed till the age of 58.

Currently, India has 17 command headquarters: 3 of the Navy and 7 each of the Army and Air Force. The Army western command is in Chandigarh, the Navy’s is in Mumbai and the IAF’s in New Delhi. In the East, IAF in Shillong, the Army in Kolkata and the Navy in Vishakhapatnam. Only at Andamans, all three services are part of the command located there.

It is our goal to develop the services as an armed force by integrating capabilities, logistics and manpower within the new Military Commands with an aim to bring down expenses, rationalize manpower and ensure that the armed forces fight as a cohesive unit.

– CDS Bipin Rawat
Curiopedia

Command Structure of the army operates six operational commands and one training command. Each command is headed by General Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of lieutenant general. Each command is directly affiliated to the Army HQ in New Delhi. These commands are given below in their correct order of raising, location (city) and their commanders. There is also the Army Training Command abbreviated as ARTRAC. Besides these, army officers may head tri-service commands such as the Strategic Forces Command and Andaman and Nicobar Command, as well as institutions like Integrated Defence Staff. More Info

Defence Minister flags off 51st K-9 Vajra at L&T

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday flagged off the 51st K-9 Vajra-T gun at the Larsen and Toubro Armoured Systems Complex in Surat. The gun weighs 50 tonnes and can fire 47kg bombs at 43-kilometre distant targets.

Crux of the Matter
  • The K9 Vajra contract will deliver 100 systems in 42 months.
  • Different manoeuvres of the K-9 Vajra-T, a tracked self-propelled howitzer were displayed. It can also turn around at zero radii.
  • L&T in 2017 had won the  ₹4,500-crore contract from the Ministry of Defence to supply 100 units of K9 Vajra-T 155 mm/52 calibre tracked self-propelled gun systems to the Indian Army under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “the government has simplified the process of giving licences for defence manufacturing and created a defence investors cell at the Ministry of Defence. The government will try its level best to remove all roadblocks that are coming in the industry’s way of indigenous defence manufacturing.”
Curiopedia

The K9 Thunder is a South Korean self-propelled 155 mm howitzer developed by Samsung Techwin for the Republic of Korea Armed Forces and now manufactured by Hanwha Defense. It was developed to supplement and then replace the K55 self-propelled howitzers in South Korean service. K9 is an indigenous system of an all-welded steel armour construction which is rated to withstand 14.5 mm armour piercing rounds, 152 mm shell fragments, and anti-personnel mines. The main armament consists of a 155 mm/52 calibre ordnance with a maximum firing range of 40 km. State-of-the-art mobility subsystems include a 1,000 horsepower (750 kW) engine with potential for growth and hydropneumatic suspension unit, a requirement for Korea’s rugged mountainous terrain. More Info

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Army Day 2020

Curiopedia

Army Day is celebrated on 15 January every year in India, in recognition of Field Marshal Kodandera M. Cariappa’s taking over as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army from General Sir Francis Butcher, the last British Commander-in-Chief of India, on 15 January 1949. The day is celebrated in the form of parades and other military shows in the national capital New Delhi as well as in all headquarters. On 15 January 2020, India celebrated its 72th Indian Army Day in New Delhi. Army Day marks a day to salute the valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect the country and its citizens. More Info