Gorkhas get the better of Pak commandoes to win gold at Wales
The Indian team on Friday last won a Gold Medal at the Cambrian Patrol competition held at Wales. The squad was from 2/8 Gorkha Rifles.
The victory is all the more sweet as the Indian team at the competition was a regular infantry battalion, whereas the Pakistan team, which also got equivalent of gold medal points, has regularly been composed of recruits from the Special Services Group commandoes, which compares itself to our NSG or the Indian Navy’s Marcos.
The Pakistan Army first won gold in 2010. Justifiably, they went to town blowing their trumpets. And this did cause the predictable heartburn on this side. However, to win gold, Pakistan indulged in stealth. What they fielded was their 5 Corps team and not a squad from an infantry battalion. It’s like preparing a team of the best soldiers recruited from different battalions within a Corp and putting them under a battalion’s flag.
This is against the spirit of the competition. Since their Army certifies it, nobody questions them. Pakistan Army leadership is known for owning/disowning their soldiers as per their convenience. The soldiers of Northern Light Infantry disowned by Pakistan during KargilWar are a case in point.
Even with such tricks, they didn’t get a gold medal in 2014 when 8 Garhwal won the gold. To beat the Indians last year, they got their best SSG recruits to participate instead of regular infantry. They got a gold while 3/4 GR representing India got silver.
This time around too they had a Punjab Regiment team but it’s anyone’s guess how “Punjabi” they must have been. They expectedly went to town on it and Doubting Thomases this side were miffed with the Indian Army, not realising that our points were still being computed and it was only matter of time before the cry of “Aayo Gorkhali” echoed.
As an Indian Army officer put it, “Our Special Forces have better work to do inside enemy territory than participate in a competition on a neutral turf.” This was an obvious reference to surgical strikes inside Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) on September 29 last destroying terror pads across the Line of Control (LoC).
According to a British Army communiqué, the Cambrian Patrol is an annual international military patrolling exercise in the rugged Cambrian Mountains of Wales. It is regarded as one of the sternest tests modern soldiers can face. The exercise consists of a 55-km course that snakes across the Cambrian Mountains. It is a mission and task-oriented exercise, which means the participating teams must complete tasks given to them. All this must be done within 48 hours. And the patrol must carry its full personal kit equipment.
The teams are given points based on their performances in several military tasks. Any missing equipment in their kits will be replaced by dead weight and the team will lose points. They are assessed on military skills, completion of orders and debrief.
Other factors that may be assessed include dismounted close combat skills; obstacle crossing drills; first aid procedures; recognition of aircraft; vehicles and equipment; IED and minefield clearance drills; patrol techniques, prisoner of war (PoW) handling; helicopter drills; media handling; radio communications skills and artillery target indication procedures among others.
The system of awards in this competition is a little different from conventional ones. Each team is assessed for its standards, relative to that of performance benchmarks laid down. Teams that score above 70% are awarded a Gold Medal. Those scoring 60-70% are awarded silver medals and so on. So it may happen that no team gets a gold or it may happen that more than 20 teams get gold medals. The first Indian Army team to win a gold medal at Wales was 4/9 GR in 2011.