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COMPANY COMMANDER EXPERIENCE DURING ‘A DAY WITH COMPANY COMMANDER’




Historically, Gurez was a part of ancient Dardistan, stretching between the Sharada Peeth in the West, Mini Marg in the North, Drass in the East and Bagtore in the South. The valley falls along the ancient silk route. The history of Gurez Valley since 1947 is characterised by its strategic significance and the movement of villagers, including Bakarwals from Gilgit Baltistan. Gurez Valley is located in the Northern part of J&K, close to the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan. After the partition of British India in 1947, the region witnessed population movement and changes in Administration. Gilgit-Baltistan, previously a part of the princely state of J&K, came under Pakistani control. As a result, some Muslim families from Gilgit-Baltistan migrated to Gurez Valley. Gurez Valley’s proximity to the location has made it strategically important and witnessed many engagements between the two countries. Despite the conflict, locals of Gurez Valley share cordial relations with the Indian Army as they genuinely feel it was Information Warrior back in 1948 when they liberated Gurez from the tribal raider by launching ‘Op ERASE’.

 

Experiencing a Company Commander’s role in undeveloped cut-off villages of Tulail Valley like Gujran, Abdullan, and Chakwali is multifaceted and challenging. Need for interaction with villagers in the Company's area of responsibility, understanding local dynamics, building rapport with villagers, addressing community needs and ensuring security helps keep a check on the pulse of the local population. Such dynamic activity requires adaptability, empathy, and strong leadership to navigate diverse situations, check and help the community, and attain military objectives in the long run. As a Company Commander, I often coordinate and oversee humanitarian assistance efforts such as Medical camps, & infrastructure development projects like school sheds, bus stands, healthcare and sanitation facilities within the villages. My experience in intelligence gathering through interaction with villagers’ local info and patrols to understand the security situation and identify potential threats and disruptive activities. Given the dynamic & less developed, and unpredictable weather conditions of villages, which remain cut off for almost five to six months. In my experience, a Company Commander must be adaptable and flexible, often making quick decisions based on changing weather conditions, circumstances and priorities.

 

The overall experience of a Company Commander in the Company area of responsibility is demanding. It requires a comprehensive understanding of Military tactics, cultural dynamics and community development principles to achieve security objectives and positive engagement with the local villagers. While performing the duties of Company Commander in the insurgency and Counter Terrorism environment in Tulail Valley, one-on-one interaction with villagers provided me invaluable insight into local tradition, culture and challenges they faced due to isolation from mainstream & vagaries of Harsh weather conditions. I also gained the opportunity to foster mutual understanding and trust between security forces & local populace. While out and patrolling, it was an experience full of excitement, thrills, and sometimes mixed feelings of fear through respectful engagement, listening to their stories during partition & after partition and observing their way of life, as well as a clearer understanding of socio-economic and political issues affecting their community. Building a mutual trust and respect relationship and open communication channels can facilitate collaborative efforts to address problems and improve conditions. Which further contributes to fostering positive relationships between the military and the local population. It also allowed me to maintain my focus on guiding youth in respective areas and promoting their joining the Indian Army.

 

During my interaction with the locals of Company Commander, I experienced the rich heritage of Peer Baba, which is a repository of culture, religion and historical artefacts showcasing the unity of villages. Peer Baba at Abdullan Village is dedicated to preserving the legacy of a revered figure in Muslim culture and serves as a centre for understanding the village’s religious and cultural heritage. In villages, Mosques are symbols of faith and serve as centres of worship, community gathering and education, embodying the spiritual and cultural identity of the local Muslim population. As Company Commander, I realised the importance of interaction in feeling the pulse of the locals and synergising the ongoing efforts to maintain peace in the Coy areas. Experiencing responsibility of Company Commander, with outdoor activities like patrol of villages, focused on maintaining security and growing positive relations with local villagers. I must ensure the safety and security of my Company's area of responsibility. Includes conducting patrols, setting up checkpoints, and coordinating with local police. It is also helpful in maintaining situational awareness. Security operations must gather intelligence through various means, including local sources, patrols and surveillance to stay informed about potential threats or emerging issues in the Company’s area.


Overall, my experience as a Company Commander on the Valley floor will require a combination of leadership diplomacy and operational skills to maintain stability, support, development and grow trust between the Army & local villagers. Feeling the pulse of the locals and synergising the ongoing efforts to maintain peace in the Company's area of responsibility boosted the Army’s aim to closely experience and interact with the locals and further strengthen the bonding with the local populace. In the future, these cordial relations are expected to help enhance the relationship between security forces and the local populace, thereby ensuring a more significant role in nation-building. Through my interaction with local stakeholders and the experiences I gained in the past twelve months, I learned that we must navigate intricate social, political and cultural dynamics while simultaneously combating terrorist threats. By employing a blend of security measures, intelligence gathering, community outreach and development initiatives, they strive to disrupt enemy activities, win the support of the local populace and ultimately achieve the overarching mission of restoring peace and stability to the region. This role requires exceptional leadership, adaptability and reliance in the face of evolving challenges and ever-changing threats.

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