Watch out, the camels are coming!

The UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan’s Darfur region is having trouble getting around. TheyCamel
don’t have enough jeeps and helicopters, so they’re resorting to the next best thing: camels. These are no ordinary camels, of course. These are combat-trained camels.

India’s Border Security Force (BSF) said it received a request last
week from the United Nations to send the specially schooled animals to
the troubled African region. …

"All
our camels are engaged in border-guarding duties and this whole process
could take a long time," said BSF spokesman Vijay Singh, adding the
agency could currently spare up to 60 of its 700-plus battle-ready
animals for Sudan.

Indian border security forces use camels for
long-range reconnaissance, including night patrols to track arms and
drugs smugglers heading into the western states of Rajasthan and
Gujarat from nearby Pakistan. [Link]

Camels are great because not only can they attain speeds of 40 mph, they don’t require you to empty your wallet at the gas station.

India and South Africa are the only countries known to use camels for military purposes. [Link]

The United States military has used camels in the past — and not just the kind you smoke. According to Wikipedia, "The United States Army had an active camel corps stationed in California in the 19th century." But they were apparently too stubborn and aggressive, qualities that are acceptable only in the Commander-in-Chief.

BSF
deputy commandant Kamal Kumar Rathore, who heads the force’s camel
division, said India could purchase the animals from the open market
and transport them to Sudan after a crash course in combat.

"There
is no dearth of camels and we can make outright purchases, put them
through a capsule course of four months and dispatch them to that
country," Rathore said. [Link]

UN Peacekeeper: "What happened? Why did our camels crash into each other?"

Second Peacekeeper: "Blame the Indians. They put these animals through a crash course."

He said the camels conscripted into the
BSF are trained not to react to gunfire and are taught to crawl and
follow other "soldierly movements." [Link]

Soldier: "Let’s crawl behind these rocks, so the enemy doesn’t see us."

Camel: "Good idea. All they’ll see is a big hump sticking out."

"Our camels move up to 80
kilometres (50 miles) with short breaks carrying ammunition and two
mounts and they would be perfect…. I would be happy to lead them into
Sudan," Rathore said. [Link]

I hope all the historians around the world are paying attention. If they’re going to have a chapter in their books entitled "Napoleon leads his soldiers into Russia," they’d better have one entitled "Rathore leads his camels into Sudan."

Photo by FriskoDude

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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