Tragic news emerged from Jammu and Kashmir on May 3, the day armed forces personnel saluted Covid-19 warriors across the country with flypasts, band concerts and warship illuminations. Four army personnel and a police officer were killed in a firefight with terrorists in Handwara, Kupwara district. Killed in action were Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, commanding officer of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), his company commander Major Anuj Sood, Lance Naik Dinesh Singh, Naik Rakesh Kumar and Sub Inspector Shakeel of the Jammu and Kashmir police.
It was the second tragedy to befall the army in a little over a month. Earlier, on April 1, five special forces personnel were killed in fierce hand-to-hand combat with five terrorists who had infiltrated across the LoC in the Keran sector in north Kashmir. No two firefights are alike and it is often difficult to judge the peculiar choices tactical commanders have to make in such situations. There is, however, one clear force multiplier that could have helped the army tip the balance in many of these situations — assault canines.
Belgian Malinois assault canines in NSG service. (Photo: ANI)
The National Security Guards or ‘Black Cats’ for instance swear by the dozen-odd Belgian Malinois they use for the hazardous task of entering rooms that may have armed terrorists and civilians in them. An NSG officer says their dogs are specially trained to distinguish between civilians, terrorists and NSG troopers. “Given the choice between sending my men or dogs into harm’s way, I’d deploy my dogs any day,” one NSG officer says.
The US special operations command (SOCOM) used the same breed in operation that hunted down Osama bin Laden in 2010 and Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi last October. Four Indian Para-Special forces units have begun inducting them since 2013 and eventually, all SF units will have these dogs. For reasons that are still unclear, the army has so far not inducted the Malinois in CI units like the RR. An incident in the Valley a few years back when a German Shepherd deployed in a counter-terrorist operation turned on an army officer, might have contributed towards some of the reluctance. But that incident, an army officer explains was the result of poor training and coordination. It is time clearly, the army turned to man’s best friend to hunt terrorists.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)