Special Forces of India

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The Special Forces of India refer to Indian military or paramilitary units with specialized training to carrying out special operations.

List of Special Forces of India[edit]



Main article: Chindits
A Chindit column crosses a river in Burma

Chindits was a British special force used against the Japanese in the Burmese jungles during the World War II. The name derives from the Burmese word Chinthe, a mythological beast that guards temples. It was the brainchild of Major General Orde Wingate. It used the strategy of long-range penetration. The initial recruits came from the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, which composed of British, Gurkha and Burmese troops.[1]


Para Commandos[edit]

Indian Army Elite 9 Para Commandos with IMI Tavor TAR-21

It is a special force unit of the Indian Army. It was derived from the Meghdoot Force, which saw action during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. The Para Commandos were first deployed in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. They took part in the 1984 Operation Blue Star. They were deployed in Sri Lanka in 1980s during India's involvement in the civil war, codenamed Operation Pawan. They also saw action in the Operation Cactus in 1988 in Maldives and in the 1999 Kargil War.[2]

Special Frontier Force (SFF)[edit]

This special force unit was formed after the 1962 Sino-Indian War. It was composed of Tibetan refugees trained in guerrilla warfare. They were meant to be air-dropped into Tibet, behind Chinese lines in case of another war. But, they first saw combat during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war. They are controlled by the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency.[3]

Ghatak Force[edit]

Main article: Ghatak Force

This special force unit of the Indian Army specializes in counter terrorism operations, especially in areas like Kashmir. They are trained for long range patrols and raids. They may also act as shock troops.[4]


Main article: MARCOS
A member of MARCOS simulates a hostage scenario aboard the amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge

This unit was created in 1987 by the Indian Navy. They saw action during Operation Pawan in 1988. They were also a part of Operation Cactus in 1988. They have also been deployed in Wular Lake which was a major infiltration point for terrorists.[2]

Garud Commando Force[edit]

Main article: Garud Commando Force

It is an Indian Air Force unit which was unveiled in February 2004. It primarily protects Indian Air Force installations from terrorist attacks.[5]

National Security Guard (NSG)[edit]

It was formed in 1984 to deal with all forms of terrorism in the country. It is directly under the control of the Prime Minister's Office. They were deployed during Akshardham Temple attack in 2002.[3] NSG also provides security for VIPs, although it was not created for the purpose.[6] They are popularly known as "Black Cats" due to their black nomex overalls and balaclavas.[7]

Post 2008 Mumbai attacks[edit]

Main article: 2008 Mumbai attacks

The anti-terrorist operation following the attacks, although successful, was criticized on several counts. The 200 NSG personnels had to be dispatched from Delhi, as NSG's sole base was located there. The operation was further delayed by the unavailability of a transport plane. An Ilyushin Il-76 was flown in from Chandigarh to Delhi, from where it reached Mumbai. About 9 hours had passed, since the terrorists first attacked at 9:30 pm, by the time the personnels reached their destination next day at 7 am.[8][9]

The MARCOS, which had a base in Alibag, could have been called in much earlier, but were delayed due to bureaucratic indecision.[10][11] Mumbai police was also noted to have lacked a SWAT unit and helicopters.[10]

On 24 November 2009, Force One, an anti-terror unit of the Mumbai Police, was introduced to the public.[12] Other states have also raised their own anti-terror units, like OCTOPUS of Andhra Pradesh[13] and Special Tactical Unit of Odisha.[14]

On 23 February 2012, the Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced 1,200 crore to be spent during the 12th Five-Year Plan for the modernisation of the NSG. Four regional bases of the NSG were also established at Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai.[15]


  1. ^ T. R. Moreman (2009). Chindit 1942-45. Osprey Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-84603-373-5. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b India: Foreign Policy & Government Guide. International Business Publications. 1 May 2001. pp. 123–124, 130–131. ISBN 978-0-7397-8298-9. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b M. C. Sharma (1 January 2008). Paramilitary Forces of India. Gyan Publishing House. pp. 35, 253–256. ISBN 978-81-7835-708-9. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "Special Operations: Broken Promises Rattle Indian Operators". Strategy Page. 1 December 2010. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "Garud: IAF's commando force takes off". Rediff. Press Trust of India. 6 Feb 2004. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "CISF prepares to become NSG substitute for VIP security". The Times of India. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Central Police Organisations. Allied Publishers. 2005. p. 161. ISBN 978-81-7764-902-4. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "Why did NSG take 9 hrs to get there?". The Times of India. 30 Nov 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "Lessons from the NSG operation". Zee News. 10 Dec 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Mumbai attacks: the bureaucracy of India's marine commandos". The Guardian. 6 Dec 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "Deadly delay in calling the marine commandos". The Economic Times. 30 Nov 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "Mumbai now has a smart anti-terror force". The Hindu. 25 November 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "Andhra anti-terror force Octopus gets its headquarters". NDTV. 13 August 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  14. ^ "State gets a dedicated force to combat urban terrorism". The New Indian Express. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "NSG gets fourth and final regional hub in Mumbai". The Hindu. 24 Feb 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 

Further reading[edit]