Historically mankind has evolved from mere Apes to Hunter Apes and then slowly transforming into today’s civilized form. The journey includes very peculiar characteristics which though should have been avoided but its relevance is crucial as well – War. The survival of fittest, for food, transformed into strategically maneuvered wars, for geographical and political supremacy. To be successful in war strategy and planning became critical and that resulted in the birth of “Training Centers or School”. This became a subject to be taught to soldiers to prepare them for all sorts of situations, both man-made and natural. The training schools were tactically situated and the modules were strenuous, difficult and selectively designed for the only few best of the best soldier.
HAWS and its Foundation
Imagine a training center situated at an altitude of 9000 feet above the sea level and the training is to make someone so fit and strong to be ready 24 hours for the battlefield at 20,000 ft. The history of the school is as interesting as it is itself. In December 1948 the then “Brigadier Kodendera Subayya Thimayya” established – 19 infantry Division Ski School. Later in 1949-50, it got transformed into a Command establishment – Winter Warfare School.
The institute then got metamorphosed into its current form – High Altitude Warfare School(HAWS), in 8th April 1962, a “Category- A” training center. It is now known as the world’s best school for warfare academics specializing in snow-craft and winter warfare. This training and research institute of the Indian Army is the school to a lot of other countries who sent their selective soldiers for training here.
Situated in the beautiful, serene and picturesque Gulmarg Valley this school has selected Indian Army soldiers as its students and undergo a very tough training whereby they are trained for combats on snow and difficult hilly mountains of Siachen.
The course is made more difficult by the ecosystem there with low oxygen levels, snow all around and tough terrain. Trainees face issues of breathlessness, headache, and increased blood pressure due to the unfavorable habitat. It’s a real test of body and mind which is evident from the fact that there is a dropout percentage of 30-40% in the school.
Starting with a simple walk of 1.5 kms on the snow with a load of around 5kgs the training slowly transforms into skiing with a load of 15 kg of load and ammunition.
The training is differentiated from a commando training with the simple fact that commando training makes them strong physically, but this training makes their minds stronger. Students are left for 72 hours with nothing and they need to survive only by their skills. Selecting each one of them from a battalion of 800, training them under toughest weather conditions and surrounded by 50 highly experienced instructors enhances their mental aptitude and prepare them for any kind of situation be it a combat or a rescue.
The training school gets its justification with all the “Heroic Rescue operations” in the recent past and also gives a confidence on the courses offered to students here.
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