In a solemn ceremony held on Thursday at 12-Wing Air Force station, Chandigarh, homage was paid to the two Air Force commandos who were martyred in an encounter in Bandipora district of Kashmir on Wednesday.
At the Pathankot airbase in Punjab, Corporal Gursewak Singh became the first Garud to fall to terrorist bullets.
The two squads now operating with the Army in Kashmir are the first lot of Garuds undergoing this on-the-job training.
Six heavily armed terrorists from Pakistan attacked the Pathankot base in the early hours of January 2, 2016. Subsequently, in August this year two squads of Garuds with each squad consisting of one officer and 13 other ranks were embedded with Army.
Sergeant Milind Kishor
Official sources said the training of the elite Garud personnel with the Army was part of a range of measures the Indian Air Force (IAF) had initiated to bolster security at all its installations after the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base previous year. They had undergone a four week pre-induction training before being deployed for Counter Insurgency operations with 13 Rashtriya Rifles.
The IAF said two terrorists, firing indiscriminately, ran towards the position of the Garud commandos, who challenged them and killed the two terrorists. They are specially trained to be a quick reaction force at important IAF bases and protect its high-value assets. In view of it, Government decided that Garuds would be deployed in counter-insurgency operations with the Army in Jammu and Kashmir to gain operational experience.
"Garuds were raised for a different mandate for special Air Force tasks and not anti-terror operations", the former IAF chief Fali H. Major told The Hindu in the past. They are specially trained to be a Quick Reaction Force at important IAF bases and protect IAF high value assets.Garuds have been effectively employed in Indian missions in support of the United Nations and during extrication of Indian nationals from war zones.