It is not just arms and ammunition that provide strength to the Indian Army Soldiers, but dogs as well who have become an integral part of the forces. As we celebrate Army Day on January 15, we should not forget the loyal services of dog soldiers of the Indian Army.
The Indian Army deploys the canine unit to take up crucial roles of tracking, guarding, mine detection, explosive detection, infantry patrolling, avalanche rescue operations, search and rescue, and assault and narcotic detection.
Dogs trained by the Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) of the Indian Army are increasingly in demand from friendly foreign countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, and South Africa. The countries also get their own army personnel trained through dog-handling courses conducted by the Indian Army. Besides RVC, National Training Center for Dogs (NTDC) is also a premier organization famous for giving targeted training to canine soldiers. These institutes provide a rigorous and comprehensive training to dogs, right from breeding and training to rearing and rehabilitation.
Last year, on 74th Independence Day, two dogs from the Indian Army, Sophie and Vida, received the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Commendations. Brown Cocker Spaniel of the Special Frontier Force (Bomb Disposal Squad), Sophie, sniffed out the presence of initiator or accelerant during a search operation in Delhi, which could have been quickly used to fabricate an IED.
While a black Labrador from an Army Dog Unit in the Northern Command, Vida used his skills to detect five mines and one grenade buried underground. The two brave soldiers were also mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Mann ki Baat address last year in August.
Some of the canines are also deployed on the Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir, like Buzo, a double-coat German Shepherd.
Buzo is one of 150 expert dogs of the Indian Army that guard the LoC as well as the hinterland. These dogs specialize in three skills, assault, as in attacking the enemy, Tracker, as in those who track movements of the enemy, and Explosive Detection Dogs, as in those who sniff explosives. Dogs like Buzo usually belong to the double-coat German Shepherd breed as they are well-suited for the cold climate of the region. Indian Army deploys Labradors in operations that take place in the hinterland.
India celebrates Army Day on January 15 because Field Marshal KM Cariappa was appointed as Commander-In-Chief of the Indian Army on January 15, 1949 and was the first Indian to be appointed as Commander-in-Chief.