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Garud Special Forces to likely be deployed in Kashmir's Lolab area

After carrying out successful counter-terror operations in Kashmir's Hajin, the Garud Special Forces of the Indian Air Force (IAF) are now likely to be deployed in Lolab area of the state under the Kilo Force of the Army's Rashtriya Rifles.

Garud teams would be deployed with the Rashtriya Rifles unit there and assigned to carry out conventional special forces' roles of searching and destroying terrorists trying to infiltrate into Indian territory across the the Line of Control (LoC), sources told Mail Today.

In the aftermath of the Pathankot operations, the IAF's special forces are being given exposure to counter-terror operations in J&K and are being deployed for short stints in the Valley for this purpose.

"The new teams would be getting inducted into counter-terror operations in the next four to six weeks where they would be given operational tasks by commanding officers of the unit under which they would be deployed," a source said.

Lolab is part of North Kashmir and considered to be close to the infiltration routes followed by terrorists and can be a challenging deployment for the youngest special force of the country.

Sources said Garuds have performed very well but they cannot be given independent deployments at the moment as they have to depend on the Army for logistical as well as operational support for carrying out actions in the Valley.

The first team of Garuds was deployed in Hajin from September-October last year with the 13 Rashtriya Rifles unit posted there, and was involved in three major operations where they killed eight dreaded terrorists and successfully managed to unearth a big cache of arms.

Sources said the size of the special force is being expanded for conventional wartime roles and securing air bases too during any attack such as the Pathankot one.

Garuds will be one of the first responders in such a scenario. During wartime, they are supposed to carry out actions to disable enemy airfields, while designating enemy radar stations and other air defence sites with lasers to be targeted and destroyed by IAF fighter planes.

"During exercises, the Garuds also carry out drills where they practice taking over enemy landing grounds following which our transport aircraft can deploy soldiers there," the source said.

Garuds were first raised in 2004 after their requirement was felt by then IAF chief S Krishnaswamy who sent a handwritten note to the defence ministry to express the seriousness of the requirement as the file was not moving fast in the ministry.

The first major operation faced by them was when Corporal Gursevak managed to engage terrorists in Pathankot where they had managed to enter the base by jumping from the perimeter wall. Gursevak was martyred in the operation.


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