US soldiers to learn guerrilla warfare in Mizoram forest

July 26th, 2008 - 12:41 pm ICT by IANS  

By Syed Zarir Hussain
Vairengte (Mizoram), July 26 (IANS) Thirty US soldiers are set to undergo training for three weeks in low-intensity guerrilla warfare from Indian anti-terror experts in the forests of Mizoram, military officials said Saturday. An Indian army commander said the training on unconventional warfare begins Aug 2 at the Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) at Vairengte, about 100 km from state capital Aizawl.

A group of 30 elite Indian army commandos, including four officers, will also take part in the joint exercise.

“The training schedule involves a rigorous drill on how to tackle urban terrorism and low intensity conflict, besides simulated anti-insurgency operations for the American soldiers,” a senior army official told IANS, requesting anonymity.

The 30 US soldiers are from the Special Forces or the Green Berets, tasked with eight primary missions - unconventional warfare, foreign internal defence, special reconnaissance, direct action, counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, psychological operations and information operations.

“The US soldiers would share their experiences in tackling urban terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the Indians would pass on their tactics used in Jammu and Kashmir and parts of the northeast,” the commander said.

There was a similar exercise in the past involving Indian and US soldiers at Vairengte.

The school at Vairengte is considered one of the world’s most prestigious anti-terrorist institutions with troops from several countries getting counter-insurgency training.

“The motto of the institute is to fight a guerrilla like a guerrilla,” a CIJWS commander said.

“The training module is non-conventional and once a soldier undergoes training here, he can face all deadly situations anywhere in the world.”

About 250 American soldiers have already undergone training at Vairengte in the last four years.

“The troops are taught to live in difficult and hostile terrain, eat and sleep like the guerrilla and strike as silently as the guerrilla,” the commander said.

“The exercise is aimed at honing special skills for soldiers who are exposed to terrorist attacks in recent years.”

Spurred by the successes in combating militancy to a great extent, New Delhi in 2001 opened the school at Vairengte for soldiers from abroad with three US army officers being the first overseas batch to be trained.

But it was only after the Sep 11, 2001 terror strikes in the US that the jungle warfare school at Vairengte began attracting military cadets from across the world.

The training module includes lectures and seminars, besides mock operations in the rugged jungles in Mizoram.

The Vairengte School at present runs four counter-insurgency and jungle warfare courses open only to officers and soldiers below 28 years of age.

The school was set up in 1970 after Indian soldiers suffered heavy casualties at the hands of northeastern rebels who were adept at hit-and-run guerrilla tactics.

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