An arduous military competition held in the Kalahari Desert of Africa in year 2002 in established the Indian military’s prowess yet again when 10 of India’s highly combative Special Forces (SF), led by Captain Krishnadas, put to shame its competitors from US, South Africa, U.K., France, hosts Botswana and a group of African nations.
In the event that took place between June 8 and 9, the second Indian team took a fifteenth, out of the 28 that participated in the annual event.
Being India’s first show at the event, the moment of pride was further enhanced for our officers, given the fact that each team consisted of an officer, a non-commissioned officer and three paratroopers, who were pulled out of active duty and given just two months to prepare. Last year’s competition was won by the South African Special Forces.
The task required a ruthless 87 km long trek over a period of three days with a complete combat load of 50 kgs. At the inception of the event on June 8, the teams were paradropped close to the border with Namibia.
There was no holding back the officers, even as things did not go as planned causing Major Animish Ranade to suffer a blunder when Captain Mool Singha’s parachute did not open. The emergency gear caused him a hard landing, leading to a fractured ankle. However, this did not dampen their spirits and the team went on to win the individual prize in the 35 kms endurance march that followed.
On the next day of the event, Captain Krishnadasa’s team, scored the individual prize for the navigation segement where the teams had to move through 20 kms of a clueless desert with just a compass. Ranadea’s team stood second. Yet again in the evacuation drill that required the teams to carry 50 kgs deadweight over a track of 10 kms, simulating a casualty, Krishndasa’s team stood first and Ranadea’s second. Unsuprisingly, Krishnadasa’s team again took a first in the speed march of 17 kms held on the last day.
Our officers showed their competence in the other aspects of the competition too. These included a rifle and pistol firing competition, a 400 metre observation lane exercise requiring them to spot seven targets and a final 5 kms home run leading to the culmination of the event.
A highly regarded officer told a news reporter that such competitions are essential to with-holding and emancipating the moral motivation of the force. Four SF units in India are equipped with performing some of the toughest and most gruelling tasks in the battlefield.
Off late, they have been engaged independently against terrorist groups in the remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir, using their own intel.