Military


Assam Regiment

The Headquarters of the Assam Regiment is situated at Shillong, the headquarters of the eastern command of the Indian air force as well as regimental centre of the Assam regiment. The Assam Regiment - an Indian army infantry regiment - has chosen the rhino as the emblem that is seen on the berets and on the belts that the soldiers (the self-named "rhinos") wear proudly. In India, rhinos are found in the state of Assam which is also known for its Oil refineries.

The history of Assam Regiment began with the raising of its first battalion in Shillong by Lt Col Ross Howman on June 15, 1941. Soon after its raising, the regiment was sent to Burma to fight against the Japanese during World War-II. In a span of three years (1942-45), the regiment earned six battle honours and the "Theatre of Burma".

In 1964, because of acts of collective indiscipline, a battalion of the Assam Regiment was disbanded - in unseemly haste, as it transpired later. On subsequent investigation, this indiscipline was found to be the direct outcome of the poorest possible leadership and management. Several of the men who were then discharged found their way into the Naga underground. Though the battalion was revived some years later the damage had been done, and a proud reputation needlessly sullied. The precipitating factor for the Mizoram insurgency was the disbanding of a battalion of the Assam Regiment in 1964 following a charge of indiscipline. This was an additional blow to Mizo sensibility, but it also provided disaffected recruits for the Front. The MNF took over Aizawl by surprise on the night of 28 February 1966, declaring Mizoram independent.

By 2003 the regiment had grown into a family of 13 battalions, two Rashtriya Rifles units and an infantry battalion of Territorial Army. Comprising exclusively troops from all the seven North-Eastern states, the regiment has established itself as a highly respected infantry regiment of Indian Army. In its six decades of martial history, the regiment has served with distinction in different wars and in various operational areas of the country. It has also been a part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka and UN Peace Keeping Force in Cambodia. The regiment has won seven battle honours, three theatre honours, six exclusive unit citations and several gallantry awards. During its post- Independence service, the regiment won two Mahavir Chakra, three Kirti Chakra, five Vir Chakra, one Ashok Chakra, 14 Shaurya Chakra and 51 Sena Medals.

The 42nd Rashtriya Rifles (Assam) formed specially to combat insurgency and terrorism, came into existence at a simple inaugural ceremony at the Assam Regimental Centre, Happy Valley in Shillong. Major General I. J. S Bora, GOC 101 area, unfurled the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) flag heralding the formal raising of the battalion which would be commanded by Lt. Col. Naresh Razora. Smartly turned out guards of the new battalion presented the major general salute in presence of officers, jawans and their families of 101 area and 42nd RR battalion. While four RR battalions had already been raised in the recent past, the 41st RR battalion (Maratha Light Infantry) was simultaneously raised in Karnataka's Belgaum. Major General Bora said as Meghalaya was relatively peaceful, there was no contemplation of deployment of armed forces at present. The force, raised to relieve the Army of counter insurgency operations, proved its mettle both in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East.

Six Army battalions raised especially for Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) counter insurgency operations underwent special training, and started deployment in the state by 01 September 2001. With the entire state barring Ladakh under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the Army began deploying additional forces to tighten the security net, with 7,200 soldiers of six newly-raised battalions. The battalions are assigned to the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), but parent Regiments raised them at their respective regimental centres. One of the six battalions was raised in New Delhi (Rajputana Rifles). The Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) RR battalion was raised at Belgaum, the Madras Regiment at Tiruchi, the Assam Regiment RR battalion at Shillong, the Punjab RR at Ramgarh, Grenadiers at Jabalpur and the Dogra Regiment RR battalion at Faizabad. The newly-raised battalions underwent special training at the Army's counter insurgency warfare school near Jammu. The Army had six months to raise and train the soldiers for the highly specialised operations. After that there was a four-week-long capsule course in laying ambushes in hills and mountains, detecting and disarming IEDs, carrying out cordon and search operations and carrying out operations to neutralise terrorists in heavily populated neighbourhoods.

The 59th Rashtriya Rifles Battalion (Assam) was formally raised at Assam Regimental Centre, Shillong in May 2004. This is the third RR battalion of Assam Regiment. Brig WJB Sturgeon, Commandant, 58 Gorkha Training Centre, unfurled the RR flag at a glittering ceremony held at Happy Valley, Shillong. Lt Col Suchindra Kumar has been deputed as the Commanding Officer of the battalion. The newly raised battalion comprises 24 officers, 38 JCOs and 1,141 other ranks posted from various battalions of the Assam Regiment.



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