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Army trains troops in helping states enforce lockdown

Officials, on condition of anonymity, said most of the state civil administrations that the Army has spoken to would be able to manage the nationwide lockdown for at least the next fortnight. However, some Army formations have been training troops to be prepared in case of being called to help.

Last Updated: Mar 30, 2020, 12.01 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: The Army is training its troops to help state authorities in managing the country-wide lockdown and any likely law and order situation as well as securing villages that may be badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A major part of the training involves the type of equipment they need to carry, clothing to be worn and precautions to be taken for themselves and in treating and helping the villagers.

While the Army has been liaising with the civil administrations of Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Rajasthan, no requisition of troops has been made yet.

Officials, on condition of anonymity, said most of the state civil administrations that the Army has spoken to would be able to manage the nationwide lockdown for at least the next fortnight. However, some Army formations have been training troops to be prepared in case of being called to help.

For example, a formation on India’s western front is training its troops to aid civil authorities, in case a requisition is made, if the law and order situation deteriorates with rioting and looting.

Training is also being given to aid local authorities in helping a village affected by the pandemic. Citing the example of Rajasthan’s Bhilwara town, which has become a COVID-19 hotspot, an official on condition of anonymity said: “The training of troops is on how they should operate, including the equipment they need to carry, in such an environment.”

Troops will be required to wear personal protection clothing (PPEs), although their availability is a challenge and additional procurement is being made for the armed forces which have been directed to augment medical resources for the civil health setup. “We have expired PPEs that are used for training the troops on how to wear them,” the official said.

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PPEs are important while treating and handling suspected Covid-19 cases. It is the same clothing that is worn during nuclear and biological warfare.

The training of troops is also focused on only equipment such as personal arms and scientific instruments that are expected to be carried for aid to civil authority.

The Army’s unit commanders have also been tasked to come up with new training programmes in view of the reduced manpower, due to the leave extensions, and to keep troops physically and mentally active.

This training is being done while maintaining social distancing norms due to Covid-19 outbreak. The training of troops is happening in small groups.

“Earlier a company (consisting of 100-150 men) could train at the battle schools and firing ranges. You cannot do that now… So, we have to come up with ideas of training smaller groups of not more than 10-15 people. The quality doesn’t suffer, but quantity does. The training also has to happen within the unit lines, because going to the regular training area is difficult due to the lockdown,” an official said.
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