Trained to hunt and kill Maoists, the Central Reserve Police Forces, Commando Battalion for Resolute Action strikes terror into the hearts of Naxalites. They are the go-to unit for counter Naxal Operations, here are five things you must know about India’s elite counter-guerrilla force.
Raised in 2008, COBRA is a lethal specialised and highly flexible special operations force tasked to neutralise left-wing extremism (LWE), for this the elite commando’s serving in the CRPF ‘s crack force employ a variety of counter-guerrilla tactics such as, Long-range reconnaissance patrols (LRRP) lasting for days, often with minimal supplies and limited support prompting COBRA personnel to utilize the flora and fauna of the jungle for food and shelter. They are tasked to gather actionable intelligence on the whereabouts of insurgents, formulate a superior strike plan and then proceed to deliver the killing blow by carrying out lethal coordinated ambushes and precision strikes on key targets.
10 Battalion Strong:
The CRPF’s elite COBRA has ten battalions, commandos from this unit are exclusively trained in guerrilla tactics and jungle survival, operating in small, well-coordinated and agile units. With principles of hot pursuit and force dispersion forming the skeleton of how they operate. The relatively small force utilise similar guerrilla tactics as their adversary, with ruthless persistence and surgical precision.
Most equipped CAPF unit:
The central government had set up the COBRA in 2008 with, 13,000 crore rupees making the elite CRPF unit most equipped and funded CAPF unit in the country. To further enhance the elite forces combat capability, the CRPF has in a first, invited international bids offering contracts for, modern 5.66 mm carbines, 24,000 bullet-proof helmets, over 300 explosive detectors and another 300 wire/cable locator equipment to counter Naxalites.
The CRPF is also set to buy 29 bomb trucks and 350 bomb blankets, on the lines of the elite National Security Guard’s (NSG) bomb detection unit, for its COBRA unit. The step has been taken after the CRPF faced serious causalities in past years, with 46 commandos being killed by Naxalites in 2016.
Armed to the teeth:
The COBRA commandos operate indigenously manufactured equipment manufactured in the Ordnance Factories controlled by the Ordnance Factories Board, Ministry of Defence, Government of India. The crack commando force has been armed to the teeth matching the firepower of army infantry platoons with:-
- INSAS rifles
- AK rifles
- Browning Hi-Power
- Glock pistols
- Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns
- Carl Gustav recoilless rifle.
COBRA sniper teams are ace marksmen with the ability to eliminate critical targets completely undetected, completely merging with the surrounding foliage. These elite sniper teams use a variety of precision weapons, most commonly the,
- Dragunov SVD
- Mauser SP66
- Heckler & Koch MSG-90 sniper rifles.
As aforementioned Cobras are trained extensively in guerrilla and jungle warfare tactics in the CRPF’s specialised jungle warfare institutions in Belgaum and Koraput. They operate on the philosophy ‘to kill a guerrilla you must be a guerrilla.’ Their training regime(physical) and duration are on similar lines of the Elite Counterterrorism unit the NSG and while counter-terrorism is the NSG’s game, counter-guerrilla is the COBRA’s.
Trained by Intelligence agencies:
Operating on pinpoint intelligence these jungle warriors are extensively trained in gathering intelligence and counterintelligence tactics by spooks from some of the country’s premier intelligence agencies. Their intelligence acumen adds to their potency as an elite commando force capable of operating independently to counter a grave asymmetrical national security threat.