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Ghatak Platoon, or Ghatak Commandos, is a reconnaissance platoon that is present in every infantry battalion in the Indian Army. Ghatak is a Hindi word meaning "killer" or "lethal". Their name was given to them by General Bipin Chandra Joshi. They act as shock troops and spearhead assaults ahead of the battalion.
Their operational role is similar to Scout Sniper Platoon, STA platoon of the USMC and the Patrols platoon of the British Army. They can be tasked by the battalion or brigade commander to carry out tasks such as special reconnaissance, raids on enemy artillery positions, airfields, supply dumps and tactical headquarters. They are also capable of directing artillery and air attacks on targets deep within enemy lines.
A Ghatak Platoon is usually 20-men strong, consisting of a commanding Captain, 2 non-commissioned officers and some special teams like marksman and spotter pairs, light machine gunners, medic and radio operator. The remaining soldiers act as assault troopers.
The most physically fit and motivated soldiers in an infantry battalion are selected to be a part of the Ghatak Platoon. Personnel attend training at the Commando Training Course in Belgaum, Karnataka. As a part of the training, the soldiers are evaluated through speed marches in battle gear ranging from 20 to 60 km, carrying their rifles and 20 kg of weight in their rucksacks. Depending on their role and parent unit, the successful individuals often undergo specialized training in demolition, close quarter battle, navigation, rock climbing and heliborne assault. Some operators are sent to High Altitude Warfare School and Counterinsurgency and Jungle Warfare School as well. However, most of them are not parachute qualified. It is mandatory for all infantry officers to pass the Commando Training Course.
These units are equipped with the IWI Tavor TAR-21, INSAS or a version of the AK-47 as their primary assault rifle. The marksmen are equipped with the Dragunov SVD and Heckler & Koch MSG-90 designated marksman rifles. They wear standard issue camouflage and body armour. Depending on the mission, they may carry other items like ropes, climbing gear, grenades, rocket launchers, laser target designators and night vision equipment. Some of the equipment for them are manufactured indigenously by the Indian Ordnance Factories controlled by the Ordnance Factories Board, Ministry of Defence, Government of India, while other items are obtained from foreign suppliers.
Currently, the Indian Army is upgrading the equipment of these units by procuring lighter body armour, personal communication sets, anti-materiel rifles and various other mission specific equipment.
A deal worth $5.75 million was signed with M/S B&T Switzerland for the acquisition of 1,568 advanced Brügger & Thomet MP9 sub-machine guns for the Ghatak platoons of infantry battalions. Additionally, door breaching ammunition and non-lethal systems like stun grenades and ballistic shields are being procured for counter-insurgency operations.
Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav of 18 Grenadiers was a part of the Ghatak Commando platoon during the action on Tiger Hill in the Kargil War, for which he was awarded India's highest gallantry award the Param Vir Chakra.
Lt. Navdeep Singh of 15 Maratha Light Infantry regiment was the Ghatak platoon commander during an operation to ambush 17 well-trained and armed terrorists who had infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir state, for which he was posthumously awarded India's highest peacetime gallantry award the Ashoka Chakra.
Capt. Chander Choudhary (Sihag), a captain of the Ghatak Platoon of The Grenadiers Regiment was killed in action on 9 September 2002, during a Seek and Destroy operation against insurgents in Dubri village in Udhampur district.
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