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The Rediff Special/G Vinayak in Vairangte
US army does Mathew's Mad Mile in Mizoram
September 27, 2005
Lieutenant Peter Almeirez is sweating profusely. Having just climbed a steep incline, he has less than a minute to complete his run. As seconds tick by, the US army officer makes it to the destination within the stipulated time. Some others, who are behind him, fail to complete Mathews's Mad Mile or MMM, a term used for the gruelling one-mile run designed to test endurance and speed through a rugged terrain in Mizoram.
Lt Almeirezis is at the Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School, one of the unique institutions of the Indian Army for the third joint exercise between Indian and American troops.
The CIJW School, located at Vairangte in Mizoram is fast becoming famous across the world's armies.
The Americans, facing increasing involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, are keen to train here and have sent their troops for third year in succession. The 42-member team that is currently undergoing a two-week course included soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division of the US Army and the Guam National Guards.
Lt. Almeirez, having just returned to his base in Hawaii from Afghanistan, says the training at Vairangte has been extremely useful.
"In the US Army, we have been out of touch with jungle warfare for some time, so to train here in real-time situations has been tremendously helpful," Almeirez says.
Lt Col Marcus of the Guam National Guards feels it is the India army's experience for the past four decades in dealing with various insurgencies that they want to share.
"The experience of the Indian soldiers and the doctrines developed against insurgency would be of great value to us," he said.
Commandant of the school Brigadier Rakesh Sharma says: "Here, we train soldiers for the modern war, which is increasingly unconventional. We reorient soldiers for the low intensity, high casualty conflict. And we give real time training."
Col Dhirendra, Indian officer-in-charge of the joint exercise named Yudh Abhyas said, "Our effort during this joint exercise has been to depict as many live scenarios as possible and train for ways to combat them."
Soldiers from the 22 Maratha Light Infantry selected to do the joint exercise with the Americans, were bunched into 'buddy pairs' with an American counterpart and told to carry out different tasks.
The two-week training comprised of the basic tactical training and specialised operations like conducting raids in heavily built up urban settings, laying an ambush in the jungles, setting up mobile check posts, intelligence collection and analysis.
Apart from the Americans, officers and men from as different countries as Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Singapore and Afghanistan have trained in Vairangte in the recent past.
In the next six months, a contingent each of Mongolian and Uzbekistan army are scheduled to train.
The need for this school was felt in the wake of the Indian army's deployment against the Naga and later Mizo insurgents in the 1960s and 70s.
Initially, the institute was catering to the needs of the Indian Army alone. The aim was to prepare troops operating against Naga and Mizo insurgencies. In three decades trained over 1350 officers and 3,25,000 Junior Commissioned Officers and other ranks.
Going by the demands on CIJW to accommodate more and more battalions for pre-induction training, a stint here is definitely beneficial. Clearly, the army top brass has recognised CIJW's role and has therefore decided to upgrade it to a college with more resources at its disposal. In coming years we are going to hear more and more about Vairangte.
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