It takes less than half-a-minute for an eight member unit of the Kerala State Police commandos, ‘Thunderbolts Kerala,’ to ‘roll out’ of their newly acquired urban assault vehicles and deploy for combat.

L. Solomon, veteran paramilitary commando instructor and operational leader of the Special Weapons and Tactics Team, says the first four ‘boys’ out of the vehicle will take positions to provide cover fire, if necessary, for the other four to ‘strike out’ and move fast to target. The drivers of the vehicles are themselves commandos trained to extricate VIP convoys from various kinds of ambushes.

The GPS-equipped vehicles can be used as forward command and communications posts in the event of Mumbai-type terrorist attacks.

The vehicles have special slots for holding the unit’s weapons, ammunition, and tactical gear, including breaching tools, grenades, night-vision equipment, sniper rifles and scopes, bulletproof and fire-retardant tactical vests and helmets, water, first aid kits, and dry rations. They have rooftop mounts to fix light machine guns.

Ever since their raising last year, the commando battalion has been in a constant mode of training and deployment. At least three times a week, the commandos have to finish a 5-km cross-country run in 24 minutes. Each commando carries 10 kg of equipment, including their assault rifle and sidearm, during the run.

The commandos constantly do dry fire practice on their Austrian Glock 17 semi-automatic, 9-mm pistols and German-made Heckler and Koch sub-machine guns to improve the speed of their draw and accuracy. Live fire practice is an integral part of their training.

The commanders view their units as thickly bonded commando units of twos and threes. The units have trained extensively with paramilitary units and the Navy’s commando unit, MARCOS. They recently completed their air assault training, including abseiling down from helicopters to rooftops of target buildings.

Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan commissioned the vehicles. State Police Chief K.S. Balasubramanian and other senior officers were present.