A year ago on 29 September 2016 a squad of troops of the Indian Army went across the Line of Control (LoC) to avenge the 18 deaths of India’s martyred soldiers. It is no secret that the surgical strikes across the LoC were a big success. The one and only aim of these strikes were to demonstrate to the people of India the extent to which the Centre could take action against the attacks that India was facing from Pakistan.
Not only were the brave hearts of the Indian Army ready to strike but were also willing to lay down their lives in their line of duty. The surgical strikes resulted in the killing of several terrorists and destruction of multiple launch pads of enemies. The fortune was with Indian soldiers and there were no casualties reported from Indian side post strikes.
Here is a first-person account of the mental and physical preparedness that was achieved by the Indian Army before the surgical strikes took place on September 2016:
When the Uri attack happened I was in 15 Corps. There, I met a few soldiers from the Bihar regiment and they recounted what happened to them in Uri. They didn’t know the accurate casualty figure themselves, but they said around 15 to 20 of their boys had died in this incident. They didn’t know I was part of the para-special forces. So, I told them if they briefed me, maybe I could understand them better. They told me that their unit was shifting to Uri and that they were going there (Uri) immediately, so they didn’t have much information.
On hearing this, I felt angry and felt what had happened with our fellow soldiers was wrong. A feeling of revenge rose in me at that time and I thought about the time when I would get an opportunity to show Pakistan, that we too were capable of doing something and inflicting similar casualties. This is what we thought then not realising that we would get the opportunity later and which was fulfilled during the surgical strike.
During the Uri attack, I was also there. When we witnessed the situation there and saw our casualties, we felt a different sense of rage. We met with the Bihar Regiment’s JCO and a few other soldiers. When we talked to them, they told us what happened was wrong and that one day we’d avenge it. And our team assured them then that we are all part of the Indian army, and we will seek revenge and deliver justice as soon as possible.
They had done something different. It was a dangerous scene. As an SF (Special Forces) soldier, I felt the time has come to teach these Pakistani’s a lesson.
After witnessing all of it (Uri attack) we had decided the reaction has to be big. And the response has to have a shocking effect on Pakistan.
After having seen it, we felt we need to react as soon as possible. They had crossed a line in what they had done. So, we wanted to get orders as soon as possible, so we could react. They were using launching pads or whatever to infiltrate; it was imperative to teach them a lesson.
We saw the entire incident (Uri attack) on TV. When we saw the families of the martyrs wailing, something pricked us from within and we felt we had to avenge this somehow.
We are soldiers and there are few emotions in a soldier. But when we learnt such a huge incident has happened with us, with our brothers, we felt really bad. We felt this is wrong. However it happened, it is wrong and whoever has done this, we’ll do worse to them. Our thought process then was such that we were filled with rage. We felt we couldn’t let this go; we can never forgive; and to accomplish it, no matter what we had to do, we were ready to do it.
It did not feel good; we were feeling very bad. We were prepared for it but we were awaiting orders; we needed orders, so we could accomplish the task.
Our Corps Commander, GOC, Brigade Commander, everyone was telling us that this (surgical strike) needs to be done and you will have to do it. So, the faith they showed in us was our biggest motivation.
After that (Army) Chief Sir went there (Uri attack site) … the army commander was there and we were present too. The atmosphere around us was a sign that whatever was going to happen now will be on a large scale and will happen at multiple locations.
All our senior officers, our (Army) Chief Sir, our army commander, they were all there. That is when we told them we’re ready. These were the words of our officers, that we’re prepared, all we need is permission to proceed. If we get permission, we are ready to conduct this operation anytime.
Our commanding officer had received the approval. But we had to decide place and time.
Everyone gave us one direction. This had to be done at multiple locations and the reaction to it should be harsh and memorable (for Pakistan).
The planning had already started. At higher levels, it was decided we have to do something big and across the border.
We are positioned in the Northern Command (Jammu & Kashmir) and all our training and focus is in the area (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) opposite the Northern Command. All our preparation happens keeping the area across the Northern Command (PoK) in focus.
Two days after the Uri (attack) our team commander called us in. He gathered all the troops, which were deployed along the frontline (LoC) at one location. Until then we did not know what was going to happen. After that our mobile phones were taken away.
The way everything was being planned it felt like something huge is going to happen and accordingly, we had to mentally prepare ourselves.
Our mind-gaming and war-gaming had already started. We began our selection of our troops, weapons and equipment from the next day itself.
On 21st (September), all the deployed troops were called in and gathered in one location, after which the selection started.
As soon as the operation was planned, that very day we returned and briefed at our location. Everyone said, “we’ll go” and wanted to come along. We then had to select our team and troops based on the operation.
When the selection phase began, I had all qualified men but I couldn’t select everyone. The difficulty was in choosing those (soldiers) I could take along and those I would leave behind. Because the ones with us are already ‘selected’.and specialised in their respective skills. I had to select 20-25 to 20-30 men. And I had the strength of approximately 60-70 soldiers. I had to select 20-25 men only. We were aware of all of their abilities, but I had to choose the best of the best.
A to Z everyone wants to be a part of every operation. For operations, we have all the troops available. But the entire battalion cannot go. Considering the operational and technical aspects, we can take only a few selected troops.
When I reached there on the 24th (September), I was selected based on my skill. All our soldiers are experts in their respective skills. I was selected based on my skill. I was a scout medico and a sniper.
I had lived in the 28 div area (Kupwara) and seen it. Secondly, I was also in medical. It was my skill, so I was called in for medical as well as navigation, to help all the teams reach the location. The team had communication, medical, weapon, demolition (experts). Every squad of 7-8 soldiers, had specialised commandos in each of these skills.
Our team composition was such that as per each skill we had 3-4 demolition specialists, medical specialists, weapon specialists and some IED (Improvised Explosive Device) specialists. This is the kind of composition we had to prepare.
Post-troop selection, we did target-related, operation-related and mission-related training. Subsequently, we collected the required documents, maps and other things we needed.