Former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has recused himself from the Indian cricket team’s tour of the West Indies citing a desire to serve in the Army, will most likely be stationed in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources, however, told ThePrint that he will not be part of any active duty or operations but will undergo training with the jawans and live like any other soldier. They said he had written to the Army authorities wanting to spend two months with the force.
Dhoni, who was awarded the honorary rank of a Lieutenant Colonel in 2011, belongs to the Territorial Army’s 106 Infantry Battalion. It is one of the two battalions that the Army has for the parachute regiment.
Dhoni’s battalion, which is headquartered in Bengaluru, is currently posted in the Valley where its personnel are carrying out static duty — guarding installations.
The former cricket captain was handed the honorary rank as he is a youth icon and the Army wanted to attract youngsters. He, however, underwent training with the Special Forces in Agra in 2015 and carried out five jumps to qualify as a paratrooper. The fifth jump was from an AN-32 transport aircraft at a height of 1,250 feet.
“For the one month he spent in Agra, he stayed in normal Army lodging. He followed all drills like any soldier including folding his own parachute,” a source said. “He came to the establishment in an Audi car but used only Army Gypsy for the one month he was with us. His Audi used to be a back-up.”
Dhoni has also undergone training in the firing of weapons and other activities.
What is the Territorial Army?
The Territorial Army is a part of the regular Army but is meant for those who are already in mainstay civilian professions. Gainful employment or self-employment in a civil profession is a prerequisite for joining the Territorial Army.
The TA’s current role is to relieve the regular Army from static duties and assist the civil administration in dealing with natural calamities. It is also called on to maintain the supply of essential services in situations where lives are affected or the security of the country is threatened.
But based on the requests and approval of the commanding officers of the respective units, TA soldiers can also get attached to regular Army units and take part in operations.
The TA units were actively involved in the 1962, 1965 and 1971 operations. The “Terriers” have also taken part in Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka, Operation Rakshak in Punjab and J&K, Operation Rhino and Operation Bajrang in the North East.
The officers and men of the Territorial Army have been decorated for their gallantry and distinguished services — they have so far earned five Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, five Vir Chakras, four Shaurya Chakras, 1 Yudh Seva Medal, 72 Sena Medals, 26 Vishist Seva Medals, 16 mention-in-dispatches and 252 Chief of Army Staff Commendation Cards.
History of the Territorial Army ::
The genesis of the Territorial Army in India can be traced back to the first war of Independence in 1857 when a Volunteer Force was raised. In 1917, the Indian Defence Force Act was enacted, under which all universities were asked to provide contingents to the defence forces.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose joined the Calcutta University Corps of Indian Defence Force in 1918. Training with the University Corps helped him later in leading the Indian National Army in the struggle for freedom. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was part of the Allahabad University Corps.
The Territorial Army in its current form came into being when the Territorial Army Act was enacted on 18 August 1948. The TA was formally inaugurated by the first Indian Governor-General, C Rajagopalachari, on 9 October 1949. The day is celebrated as the Territorial Army Day.