Bhanu (Panchkula): The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) that guards the LAC with China is training its personnel in a new unarmed “offensive” combat technique to gain better skills in taking on the adversary in situations like the Galwan clash of 2020 where crude weapons were used to inflict fatal injuries on Indian troops by the Chinese PLA.
The training module comprises 15-20 different fight manoeuvres taken from various martial arts techniques like judo, karate, and krav maga that involve moves like punching, kicking, throwing, joint lock and pinning down.
The about three-month-long training is being imparted by seasoned ITBP trainers who hone new recruits at the basic training centre (BTC) in Panchkula for battle inoculation just before getting commissioned into the border force.
“The new unarmed combat technique involves both defensive and offensive moves. We brought in this module for our troops last year on the directions of our former director general Sanjay Arora. The combat skills will render the opponent immobile and can also incapacitate them,” ITBP Inspector General Ishwar Singh Duhan told news agency PTI.
Inspector General Duhan heads the BTC located in the Bhanu area in Panchkula, about 25 km from Chandigarh.
China’s brutal medieval tactics
The Chinese soldiers used stones, nail-studded sticks, iron rods, and clubs in carrying out brutal attacks on Indian soldiers after they protested the erection of a surveillance post by China on the Indian side of the LAC at Galwan (Ladakh) in June, 2020, resulting in 20 casualties on the Indian side while China belatedly claimed only four of its troops were killed.
The Russian official news agency TASS had reported that 45 Chinese servicemen were killed in the Galwan Valley clash. According to an American intelligence report, the number of casualties on the Chinese side was 35.
The unarmed combat technique trains the troops to channelise their power in such a manner that can land a deadly punch to the opponent, a senior officer supervising the training here said.
The perils of high-altitude warfare
Inspector General Duhan said the force has also introduced special training capsules aimed at enhancing the “physical capacity” of the troops deployed in some of the most arduous posts along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that continuously face vagaries of nature like snow blizzards, avalanches, and thin oxygen levels.
“We have now put in place a plan where a troop deployed on the border and higher altitudes will not be deployed for more than 90 days at a stretch. Logistics have been put in place that will ensure timely replacement of troops from the border posts,” the IG said.
It is not that these measures and instructions were not there earlier but we are implementing these things seriously as the border is very active now, he said.
Officials said the ITBP studied a number of scientific parameters and got inputs from the DRDO’s Defence Institute of Physiology Allied Sciences (DIPAS) that showed how prolonged deployment of personnel can bring about “irreparable damage” to the human body.
It was then decided that troops deployed at high-altitude needed to be rotated within a three-month duration.
Given the standoff, the ITBP has implemented the directive in letter and spirit now, the senior officer quoted above said.
India-China standoff nears two and a half year mark
India and China are locked in a lingering border standoff in eastern Ladakh for over 29 months. The bilateral relationship came under severe strain following the deadly clash in Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh in June, 2020.
The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas. Both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers and heavy weaponry.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.
Last month, the Indian and Chinese militaries carried out disengagement from the Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hotsprings area.
However, there has been no progress yet on resolving the standoff in the Demchok and Depsang regions.
The about 98,000 personnel strong ITBP is mandated to guard the 3,488 km long LAC running across from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh and is currently deployed along with the Army at these locations since the standoff started.