Learning lessons from experience of its Garud commandos during the Pathankot airbase attack, the Indian Air Force has started moving towards providing better protection to its Special Forces against terrorist bullets in close quarter combat. In order to give them enhanced firepower, the Air Force is also seeking to buy new assault rifles for the special forces. “Learning our lessons from the attack, we are planning to buy advanced bullet proof jackets for our special forces which can provide protection against 7.62mm bullets fired from AK-47s and other assault rifles used by terrorists,” an IAF officer said.
During the attack, an IAF commando Corporal Gursevak Singh lost his life as he was hit in the thighs by bullets and suffered injuries from a grenade explosion as well, the officer said. Till now, the IAF is using bulky jackets which are not very effective against bullets fired from close range and are too heavy, thus they can hinder the movement of commandos during encounters with terrorists. Another Garud officer Squadron Leader Dwivedi was injured in the attack where the Garuds faced their first actual encounter with terrorists, and as part of the steps to be taken after the encounter, it was realised that the troops had to be provided better protection.
Officials said the Garuds had earlier also tried to procure better jackets but the move did not yield any result as the jackets on offer were found to be wanting and could not meet the standards desired by the force. The IAF also has plans to expand the size of its Garud forces as they are get experience in anti-naxal duties and are getting specialised training with foreign countries.
Around 1,000 more troops have been sought by the IAF from the government as it plans to provide better security to its air bases. The Garud commandos use the Tavor assault rifles imported from Israel and will get more of them in the near future as the case for their procurement is under process. Right after the Pathankot attack, the Air Force had moved a proposal to raise the fortification of its 54 air bases around the country.