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Rediff.com  » News » Meet IAF's First Agniveers!

Meet IAF's First Agniveers!

By ARCHANA MASIH
June 05, 2023 09:33 IST
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After five months of rigorous training, the Agniveervayus passed out of the Airmen Training School, impressing the audience with the skills they had acquired in just 22 weeks of training.

Text: Archana Masih/Rediff.com. Photographs and Video: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com. Editorial Coordination: rediffGuru Air Commodore Nitin Sathe (retd).

 

Two thousand, six hundred and seventy five -- 2,675 -- young men put up a spectacular show on the parade ground as the debut batch of Agniveervayus -- the name given to Agniveers of the Indian Air Force -- graduated from the IAF's training academy in Belagavi, Karnataka, on Saturday, June 3, 2023.

 

The precision and synchronicity of the drill, rifle display and parade was a tribute to the quality of the 22-week short and crisp training programme imparted by the IAF training staff to the young men and absorbed with admirable perfection by them.

"Ah, these boys have done as good as the NDA cadets," says an officer from the viewing gallery, as the Agniveervayus showed a repertoire of fresh rifle maneuvers.

"Drill is the bedrock of military discipline" was one of the oft repeated phrases during the parade commentary Saturday morning.

The parade ground resounded with the stamp of boots, an elegant medley of the drill and a collective roar that pierced the air.

The batch began training on December 30, 2022 with a strength of 2,850 selected from 700,000 applicants (showing the miniscule number that was selected). 2,750 trainees appeared for the final test of which 2,675 passed.

The event took off to an impressive start with trainees in camouflaged gear showing vigorous outdoor field action under a hot sun.

The training institute does not follow a fixed schedule; instead it has introduced a 'disruptive pattern of training' for the first time.

Simply put, the trainees do not know what task is coming their way day or night so as to prepare them for any kind of duty.

Indian-made Insas rifles were tackled with a feisty flourish and were the first display activity of the day.

The trainees blindfolded themselves, dismantled and re-assembled the 5.5 kg weapon with precision in less than one minute.

In the second round, they did the same with the newly inducted Russian-made AK- 103 rifles.

 

WATCH the Agniveervayus strip and assemble the rifles here!

 

Small arms training and firing is taught initially on simulators before using actual weapons.

Prasad Baburao Kadam from Satara was adjudged the best marksmen of the group.

The rifle stripping and assembly drew the loudest applause.

The confidence and skill with which trainees handled the weapons was noteworthy.

Pekiti Tirsia, a martial art form from the Philippines, has been taught to the Agniveervayus for the first time to deal with different combat situations.

Field craft training includes field movement, route marching, bayonet fighting, unarmed combat and learning to live outdoors in different terrain.

 

 

Pitching multi-weathered tents is a vital part of a soldier's life and four teams put up four tents in a well-orchestrated display using pipes, bolts, ropes and pegs.

Watch the speed with which they did it in the video above!

Snake repellant powder was sprinkled around the tents to show the precautions taken to ward off dangers of inhospitable terrain.

Suddenly, there was a blaze of fire licking the trees in a corner of the football ground in what was a fire fighting display.

A fire engine arrived on the scene and an Agniveervayu in silver heat resistant fire fighting gear rescued a victim.

Trainees showed the use of different fire extinguishers for dousing wood, liquid or electrical fire.

This batch also consists of 160 non-combatant Agniveervayus who have undergone a 24-week training in culinary art and housekeeping.

The chefs are trained to make different kinds of cuisine and learn mass cooking skills at the school of culinary skill.

There were some delicious millet cake and cookies to savour.

"The Air Force version of Masterchef happens here," says Squadron Leader Anupam Chauhan as a flurry of chopping, carving, frying, baking and assembling of food was happening all around in the culinary centre.

Proud parents who had travelled from various parts of the country were beaming with pride.

Farmers, fruit sellers, shopkeepers, small business owners -- fathers, mothers, siblings, uncles had come by train and bus to see their children.

They were invited for the bada khana -- the ceremonial meal -- with the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command, Air Marshal R Radhish, the chief guest. who had flown in from Bengaluru and other officers and staff.

Air Marshal R Radhish and Air Officer Commanding of the Airmen Training School, Air Commodore S Sridhar, mingled with the parents and made it a point to walk up to their enclosure at the end of the parade to congratulate them.

The first phase of the course was for four weeks which included topics like discipline, military ethos, familiarisation into IAF's customs, rules and computer skills and, of course, "getting rid of the home-sickness," points out Warrant Officer S L Yadav, who is in charge of Outdoor Training.

Trainees underwent a stream allocation test in week three where a board of officers allocated specific technical or non-technical streams.

The boys underwent a 18 week training in technical streams like air defence, aircraft maintenance, radar etc or non-technical fields like accounts, administration and logistics.

The joy of success on every face as the Agniveervayus celebrate, cheer, roar and do push-ups together.

They will now leave for training in their respective streams to various IAF type training establishments across the country for an 8 week schedule.

Thereafter, they will be posted to operational units around the country.

By 2027, 25% of the best performers will be retained in the IAF; the rest will be released from service to take their military skills into civilian professions.

The trainees get a stipend of Rs 20,000 and will get a starting salary of almost Rs 30,000. Most Agniveervayus said they wished to apply for commissioning in the officer cadre in the IAF as and when the opportunity presented itself.

The institute expects a larger batch to join next week with 4,000 recruits slated to arrive at the school to commence their training.

This will also include around 100 women Agniveervayus for the first time.

"One course passes out and we get ready for the next; there is no time for a breather, the cycle will continue," says Squadron Leader Kunal.

The institute will have to upgrade administrative arrangements to cater to the higher strength expected in the second batch -- and the staff is already getting ready to receive raw recruits and get down to the business of honing them into potential air warriors.

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ARCHANA MASIH / Rediff.com