ANDHRA PRADESH

Greyhounds among the best anti-insurgency forces: Experts

Impressive strike rate:A file photo of Greyhounds personnel securing the Kambalakonda Reserve Forest in Visakhapatnam.

Impressive strike rate:A file photo of Greyhounds personnel securing the Kambalakonda Reserve Forest in Visakhapatnam.  

Post bifurcation, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh share one thing and they share it with pride. It is the elite force of the police — the Greyhounds.

According to a few senior officers who have served in different parts of the country and headed different types of paramilitary and police units, the Greyhounds is one among the best anti-insurgency forces that specialises in anti-Maoist operations and are experts in jungle warfare.

Sworn to secrecy

Not much is known about this commando force, as they are sworn to secrecy. It was raised in 1989 by IPS officer K.S. Vyas. He was assassinated by the Maoists while on his morning jog for raising the force and making huge dents in their ranks.

What makes them special is the 98% strike rate, said an officer from the intelligence wing.

From 1995 to 2016, there were about 163 casualties on the police side whereas the toll on the Maoists side was close to 1,780. And from 2008 to 2017, it is three on the police side and more than 700 on the other side.

“While all the Maoist hits cannot be credited to the Greyhounds, they account for about 80%, and the casualty on the Greyhounds side of the total police casualty will be about 20%, including the Balimela reservoir attack in which about 35 Greyhounds where killed in one go by the 0Maoists,” said an officer from AP SIB.

Dwaraka Tirumala Rao, Additional DG of CID, said at a recent meeting Balimela was an uncharted territory. “The Greyhounds are the best forces on ground. But unfortunately the incident happened when they were on a boat across the reservoir. Had it been on ground, the force would have struck back and the casualties would have been much fewer,” he said.

According to former DG of SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal), M.V. Krishna Rao, the Greyhounds are good as they are trained to be good and they are a focussed force. They operate on reliable intelligence feedback, strike and move on, he said.

Another IPS officer currently involved in anti-Maoist operations in the agency areas of Visakhapatnam said, “The total strength of the force could be about 3,000 in the State and they move in small bands of 15-25 commandos. They are specially trained for deep forest pursuit and combat. Apart from the rigorous training that they undergo, they have learnt from the mistakes and field experiences in the last 26 years.

“The force has been on hot pursuit of the Naxals both in Telangana and AP for over two decades and the combat experience gives them the cutting edge. And now they are being replicated in other States. There is both glamour and incentive and that is why it attracts the best,” added the former Union Home Secretary, K. Padmanabhaiah.

Physical, mental toughness

“After serving for about 15 years, based on their physical fitness and mental assessment they are withdrawn and rolled back into the general police force. The average age of being pulled out is 35. So they are fitter, younger and agile over other paramilitary forces in the country,” said DIG (Visakhapatnam-Range) Ch. Srikanth.

Apart from being given sophisticated weapons, their mainstay and preferred weapons are the AK series, INSAS and the SLR.

But what makes them different from the others is the ability to cover huge tracts of hilly and forested terrain ranging from 20 to 30 km in one single operation and survive on a frugal ration of dry fruits for over four to five days.

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