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Tired and sleepy, scrolling through my phone, I was sipping my evening tea after my patrolling exercise in CIJW (Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare) School, Vairangte, when I received a message on my unit group that our Battalion will be moving to a field area. It was a moment every youngster in the Infantry eagerly waits for and so was I. I was thrilled. I started with my so called homework and tried to find out about the location, the dynamics of the place, and type of operations and obviously, the availability of 4G networks. I was fortunate enough to find a course-mate serving in the same Brigade but at a different location. The first-hand inputs given by him made me more excited & anxious as he told me that the Division is Hot-Shot Formation and it’s an unpredictable & highly active area. Intrigued after hearing the news, I had already started relating the teachings of the course to what I was going to do in the next location, as if I was teleporting myself to a place had never been to. It was very clear in mind that I was to face a major challenge and the best part about it was that I was ready for it after three years of peace tenure.

After reaching my location, I was told that I will be moving as a Company Commander at Rupa. I was thrilled and anxious at the same time because I was going to stop the enemy from doing anything for real this time, anxious because of my inexperience and the responsibility of the boys under my command. As a surprise, the anxiousness brought out the better in me. I was more alert, keen to learn more and more. The faith and trust entrusted in me by my superiors in delegating me this important responsibility was a driving factor in bolstering my motivation to the next level. And then the journey began. During my area familiarization, I got a good look of the enemy post for the first time in my life. I was astonished to see the sight. ‘Eyeball to Eyeball’ here I was, geographically, right in the face of enemy. The distance between our posts was mere 60m. I thought to myself, there cannot be a better opportunity to minutely keep an eye on the Dushman. From that very moment, my singular aim was to observe the enemy and study him to include his routine, pattern, defenses, weapon system etc.

The enemy posts opposite my complex were very close to us. Closest was an enemy Listening Post (LP), at a distance of just 60m. Once again, a perfect opportunity to observe the enemy. I got down to business right away. I started with observing the routine movements of the enemy during day and night. I was glued to the binocular during day and night, making notes, reporting what I saw. I tried to analyze every bit of information logged by my company and the conclusions drawn by me were surprising for a ‘fresher’ like me. The enemy is smart and way more professional than I had thought. Even his routine moves were barely visible and if visible, they were tactical. The enemy never used torch at night. I didn’t see a speck of light in and around his post. No torches. No sound. As if he was living without electricity. I learnt from the enemy for the first time. He had constructed huge walls to hide their activity at posts. Even if the enemy had to observe us, they would do so by looking from the loopholes constructed on the walls. And there were too many, some were dummy. Once again, a thing to learn. I started pondering more and more to find out his vulnerability and see if he’s making any mistakes. One fortunate day, I caught the enemy off guard. I found a spot at the enemy post where two Mujahid soldiers were talking on the phone. After studying their body language, I realized they were carefree and lackadaisical. The distance was just 150m. I immediately called my sniper and told him to log the target. I felt accomplished. The enemy might be smart, but so are we. After getting my first success, I was even more driven to study the enemy and plan on exploiting his vulnerabilities in the near future.

I continued with my work relentlessly. I increased the tempo, went out and visited all the posts in my Area of Responsibility at least twice a week. The perspective was different from each post. Things got clearer and clearer. During the campaigning season, enemy started on with his movement. I observed the enemy mules very closely, literally counting them The enemy mule induction had commenced before hours and ended after hours. It was very obvious that they were not just dumping the ration. But all these doubts were cleared when enemy started heavy construction activities opposite my company’s Area of Responsibility. They were dumping ration as well as lots of construction material on forward posts. The enemy was capitalizing in February 2021 and was blatantly constructing new bunkers and improving his Defence. He was covering the gaps between his posts wherever feasible. One fine day, I was amazed to see a JCB on the forward slope of enemy post Chuha Hill at the height of 12000 ft. The enemy JCB was clearing way for construction of new roads to join various posts. It made me worried. I kept observing. One day, I saw an enemy helicopter approaching towards their post. It made a landing and then went towards some other post and landed. This way, it had made landings at three forward posts, all of which were at a height of 10000 ft or above. The enemy had constructed helipads at all its forward posts. The saying “never underestimate the enemy” hit me hard that day.

I kept observing the enemy more and more, carried out deductions and made plans to exploit his vulnerabilities. My first experience in this field location has been an adventurous one so far. It has brought to me great learning value and has taught me many lessons. One can learn from the enemy too. I feel I am an upgraded version of myself when it comes to professionalism and I feel even more enthusiastic and confident for the balance of my tenure. I learned not to underestimate the enemy as well as not to overestimate him. This way, I’ll continue to work hard and learn about the enemy more and more, analyze his capabilities and vulnerabilities and contribute whatever I can in the form of my analysis which might prove instrumental in some operation in the near future.

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