Army honour for close combat warfare expert

Team India captain M S Dhoni and ace shooter Abhinav Bindra, who were conferred honorary ranks of Lt Colonel by the Army Chief on Tuesday, stole the limelight at the official function in the Capital but the real hero was a third person — Deepak Rao, India's leading expert on close combat warfare.

Rao, made an honorary Major in the Para regiment, is a doctor who has been training elite special forces of the country for 18 years. Rao, with his wife Seema, has trained over 15,000 troops from elite forces like the Marine Commandos, NSG and Garudas (Air Force) in a new form of Close Quarter Battle that has the sole aim to kill — using daggers, bayonets, small arms and even with bare hands.

While Bindra has been made an honorary Lt Col of the Sikh Regiment, Dhoni and Rao will join the ranks of the elite Parachute Regiment, the highly trained special forces of the Army. Dhoni's choice for the Para regiment was simple, "I did not want to be restricted to the Kumaon or Garhwal regiment. I wanted to be a part of something that was not restricted (by geographic boundary). I also wanted to be a part of the best".

For Rao, however, joining the ranks of the Para regiment was like 'coming home'. He and his wife (also a doctor) train the soldiers in Unarmed Combat Tactical System, which employs principles from Sun Tzu's Art of War, Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do and Close Quarter Battle tactics as well as modern techniques of close range shooting.

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