Israel’s elite Air Force instructors are training Indian Special forces, Israeli media reports confirm. Israel Defense Forces’ Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit 669 is carrying out joint drills with Garud Commando Force, the Special Forces unit of the Indian Air Force.

According to Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post, 16 Indian commandos are currently stationed at Nevatim and Palmahim air bases. These personnel are part of a 45-man delegation and a C-130J Super Hercules transport plane that are in Israel to take part in Blue Flag 2017, Israel’s largest aerial drill ever, the newspaper added.

India’s Garud Commando Force was created in 2003 after Islamic terrorists repeatedly tried to target air bases in India’s Kashmir region. Apart from securing airfields from terrorist attacks, the airborne unit is involved in rescue, reconnaissance and counter-terrorism operations. Despite its short history, the Indian unit has “managed to accumulate considerable operational experience,” Israeli news website Ynet News noted.

IDF’s Unit 669 on the other hands has been around for more than four decades and has distinguished itself in four major cross-border operations, and is counted among the best IDF Special Forces units.

The news comes just weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his plans to visit India early next year. Israeli news website Ynet News reported the details of the joint training exercises:

IDF’s Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit 669 and its Indian counterpart joined forces in joint search and rescue drills in the Palmachim dunes as part of the larger Blue Flag bi-annual aerial exercise, which started earlier this month and will end on Thursday, Nov. 16.

The Indian counterpart of Unit 669, the Garud Commando Force, is much younger. It was established in 2003, but managed to accumulate considerable operational experience.

The Garud arrived in Israel with minimal equipment, and the weapons for the exercises were supplied to them by Unit 669.

Fortunately for them, they were supplied with Israeli-made weapons, which are not unfamiliar to them, as they already routinely use the Tavor bullpup assault rifle, the Negev light machine gun and the old Galil rifle.

After an initial demonstration by the 669 soldiers, where Garud commandos witnessed them practicing hostage rescue, a search and rescue operation took place the next day, simulating the location, treatment and evacuation of a pilot that crashed in enemy territory.

Much like Israel, India has paid a heavy price for being at the forefront of the global Islamic Jihad. Since 2007, India has lost nearly 5500 civilians and over 2700 army personnel to terrorism.

Faced with relentless attacks from Islamic terrorists in its territory, India has turned to Israel for military procurement, strategic ties, and inspiration. Last year’s covert operations by Indian Army against Islamist bases inside Pakistan were taken right out of the Israeli counter-terrorism handbook. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi admitted emulating Israel’s example in destroying terrorist bases along its border.

The bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism is not limited to armed forces alone. The Indian police, too, have benefited from Israeli expertise in combating  terrorism. Indian police officers have visited the Israel National Police Academy to learn from Israeli law enforcement officers.

On a personal note, as someone who saw his father serve in the Indian Air Force for three decades, I take great pride in watching our elite airborne Special Forces carry out joint exercises with their Israeli counterparts.

Video: Israel’s Ambassador Daniel Carmon speaks on “India, Israel: An enduring partnership”:


[Cover image via YouTube]