Crippled by the lack of expertise of US soldiers in low intensity counter operations (Lico) in its ongoing war in Iraq, a senior level team led by a general from the US Army visited the 15 Corps Battle School (CBS) at Khreul, 20 km from Srinagar, early this month to replicate a similar model for its troops.
A dedicated institution to impart counter terrorism (CT) training to all security forces operating in the militancy-infested Jammu & Kashmir, the CBS has within its set-up, a mocked-up Kashmiri village with dummy hide-outs, which are otherwise used in normal situations by militants to either take refuse or launch an offensive against the security forces.
Deputy commandant and chief instructor at CBS, Lt Col Kulwant Singh, while confirming the visit by the US army, headed by commanding general Chris Kevin, told TNN the team had specifically come to replicate a similar model in the US for training its troops fighting the Iraqis. "The idea was to acquaint their troops in anti-militancy and unconventional operations," he added.
"The US army is fighting under similar conditions of a proxy war where they come under attack from unsuspected quarters," Singh said, adding that the team besides witnessing training activities and interacting with instructors, also took a detailed purview of the kinds of situations faced by the security forces fighting a proxy war.
Instructors at the school said despite being equipped with the latest surveillance systems and weaponry, the US army is facing a major challenge to resist increasing attacks from the Iraqis.
"It has only exposed their vulnerability and inexperience in handling low intensity conflicts," an instructor said.
The model village, named Takribal, was conceptualised and set up in July 2003, after a young Army officer lost his life in the valley during an offensive with the militants, who were holed up inside a house.
Local Kashmiri Noor Mohammad, who designed the plan, said the village, with 38 houses represents a typical village in the valley, but has 18 hideouts of different kinds. The plan was finalised after gathering information from villagers and intelligence sources about the different types of shelters being used by the militants.
"Like for instance, one of the hideouts is a water tank with an underground opening, which leaves little scope to imagine that somebody can actually remain beneath it with water filled up at the top," Noor said, adding in another such hideout.
This is the second such instance this year when the US Army sought assistance from its Indian counterparts to equip themselves in low intensity conflicts. In March this year, the US soldiers had trained along with the Indian army in low intensity conflict exercises in the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Vairangte in Mizoram.
"The initial phase would be for carrying out cross-country runs, slithering and firing and later on the two sides would conduct exercises in anti-militancy and unconventional operations," the spokesman said.