19th Battalion The Baloch Regiment is one of the oldest Light Anti-Tank Regiment of Pakistan Army. Initially raised as the Machine Gun Battalion of 10th Baluch Regiment in 1942, it was first designated as 53rd Regiment, Indian Armoured Corps and then re-designated as 17/10th Baluch. This unit has the unique honour of being the parent unit of Pakistan Army's special forces known as Special Service Group. Prominent officers including General Mirza Aslam Beg, General Pervez Musharraf have served in the unit and Maj Gen Abrar Hussain and Maj Gen Aboobaker Osman Mitha also known as AO Mitha have commanded this unit. Another famous officer was the brilliant Col. S.G. Mehdi,M.C, considered the 'Father of SSG" whose career was cut short when he refused to agree to a foolhardy scheme concocted by the Pakistan Army general Staff to launch para commandos in Indian Held Kashmir in 1965. The Operation called "Gibraltar" was the brainchild of Gen Akhter Malik, whose inordinate ambitions lead to this grand fiasco. Mehdi was sacked and the new commander was ordered to go ahead with the mission which was a total disaster.
19 Baloch originally formed part of old 10th Baluch Regiment Group, which was raised in 1820. To cater for the ever-growing demand of troops, the group was expanded during World War II and a number of battalions were added, including 17/10th Baluch, which was raised on 15 April 1942 at Karachi by Lt Col C J D Tomkins.
After its raising, the battalion was involved in famine relief duties in Bengal. From there, it moved to Persia as part of Persia and Iraq (PAI) Force to Bisitun in Persia. In Persia the battalion performed protection duties.
From Persia, 17 Baluch (in 1945, '10' was dropped from the designation of Baluch Regiment) was dispatched to Dodecanese Islands (Greece) on 21 Dec 1945 and deployed at Rhodes as the garrison battalion. From there it was sent to Benghazi, Tobruk and finally Cyrenaica in August 1946. It left Cyrenaica in January 1947, via Suez for India, arriving at Bombay on 16 February 1947. The battalion was stationed at Poona up to Aug 1947.
The battalion took part in Kashmir Operation in Bagh Sector under 102 Brigade. On 20 Jul 1948, C Company of 19 Baloch along with D Company of 11 Baloch captured Point 9178, during the operation which culminated in the capture of Pandu. The battalion guarded a frontage of 60 km from Chattar to Dara Haji Pir. Lance Havildar Lal Khan of this unit was awarded Tamgha-e-Jurat for gallantry in the capture of Point 9178.
The battalion was earmarked for conversion into Special Service Group in 1956. 17th Battalion The Baluch Regiment and 312 Garrison Company (SSG) were amalgamated and the battalion was renamed as 19th Battalion The Baluch Regiment (SSG). A selection test was held for all officers and men of the old 17 Baluch desirous of remaining with 19 Baluch (SSG). Majority of men were weeded out in the tough physical tests. Remaining members along with volunteers raised Quaid Company of SSG, which later became part of 1 Commando Battalion.
It remained SSG Battalion for 13 years, till August 1965, when the scope of Special Service Group was expanded from battalion size to that of an operational group and 19 Baluch went into suspended animation.
As part of the expansions carried out in the late 1960s, 19 Baluch was re-raised as a Reconnaissance & Support (R&S) Battalion on 14 Mar 1969 at Baluch Regimental Centre (BRC) Abbotabad. Lt Col Muhammad Ilyas was posted as its Commanding Officer with a major portion of other officers coming from 5 Baluch. Captain Shahbaz (later Colonel) was the first officer to report at BRC and was appointed as Signal Officer of the battalion. Capt Amman Ullah Cheema also joined from 5 Baluch and was later to become Adjutant of the battalion during 1971 war and a hero of attack on Thako Chak in the Battle of Chhamb.
During 1971 war, all the R&S Companies took part in the war under their respective brigades in the Battle of Chhamb. Jalil Force named after the then Commanding Officer Lt Col Abdul Jalil took up defense in Nadala enclave near Surkhpur.
Battalion HQ - Thako Chak
Using elements of Battalion Headquarters, the Adjutant, Captain Amman Ullah Cheema raided the Indian post at Thako Chak which was being manned by 16 (Patiala) Punjab of Indian Army. The post was taken with minimum casualties and was held till the end of the war despite a strong enemy counter-attack on 15 December. The post was so fiercely defended that Indians assumed tanks to be present there. Needless to say, Indian 16 Punjab's attack was repulsed while inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. In the aftermath of Simla Agreement when both the army chiefs met at Lahore to demarcate the border, a breakdown in talks occurred on the Thako Chak issue. 19 Baluch (R&S) captured this salient in the Jammu Sector; a part lay across the international border and another across the ceasefire line. The Simla Agreement required this minor salient to be divided between India and Pakistan. Although this seemed pointless to India, it became a matter of principle for Pakistan. Talks dragged on endlessly. Ultimately, India resolved this problem by compensating Pakistan elsewhere along the Line of Control.
At the outbreak of hostilities, this company was part of Minto Force (named after Lt Col Minto, CO 26 Cavalry) and was placed under the command of 4 Azad Kashmir Brigade. This force consisted of 12 Independent Squadron, Squadron ex 26 Cavalry, Company R&S ex 19 Baluch and Rear HQ of 26 Cavalry.
The company went under comd 20 Brigade. The company along with 23 Baluch played an important role in the capture of Chhamb.
The company was under the command of 111 Brigade. The important actions undertaken by the company are:Capture of Paur Post along with a troop of tanks of 26 Cavalry on the morning of 4 December 1971.
Advance to and fight on the Phagla Ridge with a squadron of tanks of 26 Cavalry on the morning of 6 December 71.
Attack on Dhar and Palatan on the night 10–11 December 1971.
The company underwent frequent changes of brigades. The main action in which it took part under 4 AK Brigade, was the action of Mandiala Ridges. In this action, the company advanced from a bridgehead across River Tawi followed by a squadron of tanks ex 11 Cavalry on the morning of 5 December 1971. The force got ambushed and was completely pinned down having suffered the loss of seven Recoilless Rifles and two Machine Guns.
In 1972, a dearth of standard infantry battalions (SIB) had developed and not enough troops were available to hold forward defended localities (FDLs). As a consequence, 19 Baluch (R&S) was converted into foot infantry in 1972 and underwent conversion training in its area of responsibility. The unit occupied Mandiala Ridges along Line of Control in its new role. In 1973, the battalion was re-converted into R&S Battalion.
The battalion was re-designated and reorganized as a Light Anti Tank (LAT) Battalion in May 1991. This reorganization was part of Pakistan Army's overall reforms introduced in that year. Apart from reorganization in the company strengths, newer weapon systems such as Baktar Shikan were also introduced. In 1991, the spelling of 'Baluch' was changed to 'Baloch.'
Due to old affiliation with SSG, the battalion was affiliated with 1 Commando Battalion and redesignated as 19 Baloch (SSG) in April 1998. This was largely due to the efforts of Lt Col Wasif Sajjad, the Commanding Officer, who had himself served in SSG.
Raising day is celebrated on 11 April, commemorating the re-raising of the battalion at Abbottabad in 1969.
After the unit was reorganized in 1969 and redesignated as 19 Baluch, Colonel Abdul Rauf, TBt, was appointed the first Colonel of the Battalion. He remained on this prestigious appointment for two terms. He was succeeded by Major General Muhammad Azam, who also served for two terms. On completion of his tenure, Brigadier Salim Ashraf, SI (M), took over as the new Colonel of the Battalion in August 2010.
During the war of 1965 officers and men who laid down their lives in the line of duty while serving in SSG are included in unit's list of martyrs. Apart from the War of 1971, unit also lost men to the floods of 1973, who despite rising waters did not vacate their posts on Mandiala Ridges.
The following brave men of 19 Baluch (R&S) laid down their lives in the line of duty while fighting in the Battle of Chhamb
During the floods of 1973, 19 Baluch was occupying posts on Mandiala Ridges. After the initial flood outbreak, more than 100 troops were reported missing. However, after the initial chaos had abated and communications re-established, losses were calculated to be much less. The casualties of the 1973 flood were:
The battalion adopted the motto of "Alquadri" in 1991. Since Qadir is name of Allah, so Alquadri means Allah's or "Allah Wali" in Urdu. Literally it means those who prevail on strength of their power.