Infantry gets more firepower

Soldiers displaying multi-shot grenade and rocket launchers at Delhi Cantonment on Wednesday. — Photo: Anu Pushkarna

Soldiers displaying multi-shot grenade and rocket launchers at Delhi Cantonment on Wednesday. — Photo: Anu Pushkarna  

NEW DELHI OCT. 22. The Army today unveiled the extra firepower and new surveillance devices being given to the infantry to make it more effective in war and counter-insurgency operations. Most of the equipment has already been given to the units and more will be bought in the coming days.

"We believe the future wars in the region are going to be infantry-centric. Therefore, it stands to reason that the key component of the Army gets modernised to lead it to victory,'' the Director-General of Infantry, K. Nagaraj, told a press conference. The Infantry Day falls on October 27. It was on that day in 1947 that the first infantryman landed in Kashmir Valley to repulse Pakistani invaders who had almost reached the Srinagar airport unhindered. The action reversed the tide of the battle and Pakistan failed in its attempt to annex the Kashmir Valley.

The modernisation part of the Rs. 3,000-crore plan approved recently by the Government, will be across the board for all infantry units. Since most of them are engaged in counter-insurgency operations, many of the weapons and surveillance devices will be given first to battalions deployed in Jammu & Kashmir.

The Director-General sees a two to three-year timeframe for the induction of the range of weapons including night vision device-fitted heavy guns, anti-material guns for blasting bunkers, hand-held thermal imagers that detect body heat and battlefield surveillance radars that show up mobile elements, from a group of persons three km away to a low flying helicopter at a distance of 15 km.

The induction of modern weaponry followed detailed studies that identified areas of improvement and combat effectiveness. "The infantry has always been effective. Now we will be looking for a more effective one by making available modern equipment so that the units are not found wanting,'' he said. The soldiers, he said, would not find it difficult to operate the new equipment, as nuclear teams have received training, which will be passed on to others. The new equipment includes clothing and other elements to counter possible nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare as well as new imported aids for mountaineering.

"The NBC equipment is a humble beginning and is meant for individual protection, contamination detection and decontamination,'' said Lt. Gen. Nagaraj. "The environment we are living in is NBC environment. We have to cater to that.''

On the feedback from the units using the equipment, he said they had found that it improved their border surveillance. "Electronic means have played a big role in augmenting our efforts in this direction. They have also enabled us to detect more cases of infiltration and increased interception of militants.''

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