Special forces of India
The Special forces of India refer to those Special forces units which are serving the Republic of India and are specifically organised, trained, and are equipped to conduct and support special operations. The three branches of the Indian Armed Forces have separate special forces units, namely the Para SF of Indian Army, MARCOS of Indian Navy and the Garud Commando Force of Indian Air Force.
However, small groups from these units are deputed in the Armed Forces Special Operations Division, which has a unified command and control structure. The Research and Analysis Wing, the external Intelligence agency of India, has its separate special forces unit called Special Group.
Para (Special Forces)
This unit was created in 1966 by the Indian Army.
During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, a small ad-hoc force comprising volunteers from most infantry units from North India under Maj Megh Singh of the Brigade of the Guards, operated along and behind enemy lines. The performance of this force made the powers that be sit up and take notice of the contribution and necessitated the raising of unconventional forces. Forming the nucleus of the new force from the volunteers of the then-disbanded Meghdoot Force, a battalion was raised to be part of the Brigade of Guards, but paratrooping being an integral part of commando tactics, the unit was transferred to the Parachute Regiment. Raised in July 1966, 9th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (Commando) was the first special operations unit.
Exactly to the date, 1 July 1967, 10 Para Commando was raised by splitting 9 Para Commando at Gwalior. The Para Commandos were first deployed in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, with 9 Para Cdo capturing the heavy gun battery at Mandhol in Poonch, J&K. 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.
The list of PARA (SF) Battalions are:
- 1 PARA (SF) (raised 1961, converted to para role in 1945, became part of para regiment in 1952, and it was again converted to commando in 1978)
- 2 PARA (SF) (ex-3 Maratha LI, converted to special forces in 1999.)
- 3 PARA (SF) (ex-1st Kumaon Regiment, converted to special forces in 2000)
- 4 PARA (SF) (raised 1961, converted to special forces in 2001)
- 9 PARA (SF) (raised in 1966, the first dedicated special forces unit of the Indian Army)
- 10 PARA (SF) (raised 1967)
- 11 PARA (SF) (raised 2011)
- 12 PARA (SF) (raised 2013)
- 21 PARA (SF) (raised 1996)
This unit was created in 1987 by the Indian Navy. They saw action during Operation Pawan in 1988. They were a part of Operation Cactus in 1988. They have also been deployed in Wular Lake which is considered a major infiltration point for armed militants.
During the 2008 Mumbai Attacks, MARCOS had participated in the operations along with the National Security Guards. The MARCOS, which had a base in Alibag, could have been called in much earlier, but were delayed due to bureaucratic indecision. The MARCOS are capable of undertaking operations in all types of terrain, but are specialised in maritime operations. The force has undertaken numerous joint exercises with special forces from around the world.
Some of the responsibilities of MARCOS are-
- Providing support to Amphibious operations.
- Special surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
- Clandestine operations inside hostile territory, including diving operations and raids.
- Counter-terrorism operations.
Indian Air Force
Garud Commando Force
It is an Indian Air Force unit which was unveiled in September 2004. It primarily protects Indian Air Force bases and installations from terrorist attacks. Garud commandos are also involved in search and rescue during peace and hostilities and disaster relief during calamities.
Garud trainees undergo a 72-week probation training course, which is the longest among all the Indian special forces.The initial 12 months training is to make them hardened soldiers, the total duration of training before a trainee can qualify as a fully operational Garud is around three years.
Garuds have diverse responsibilities. Besides base protection force to protect airfields and key assets in hostile environments, some advanced Garud units are trained like Army Para Commandos and the Naval MARCOS to undertake missions deep behind enemy lines.
During hostilities, Garuds undertake combat search and rescue, rescue of downed airmen and other forces from behind enemy lines, suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD), radar busting, combat control, missile and munitions guidance ("lasing" of targets) and other missions in support of air operations. It has been suggested that they undertake an offensive role including raids on enemy air bases etc. during times of war. Apart from protecting air bases from sabotage and attacks by commando raids, they are also tasked to seal off weapons systems, fighter hangars and other major systems during intrusions and conflicts.
Note: The security of IAF installations such as radars, airfields and other establishments near border areas are generally performed by Air Force Police and Defence Security Corps (DSC).
Research and Analysis Wing
The Special Group is a confidential special forces unit of the Research and Analysis Wing. It was formed in 1981. The responsibilities of the Special Group includes clandestine intelligence operations and covert operations, with which the Government of India may not wish to be overtly associated.
Special Frontier Force
The Special Frontier Force is a confidential special forces unit of the Research and Analysis Wing which was created on 14 November 1962 to undertake operations against the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Based in Chakrata, Uttarakhand, SFF is also known as the Establishment 22. The force was put under the direct supervision of the Intelligence Bureau, and later, the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency. It consists primarily of Tibetan people who are tasked to undertake operations in the tough terrain of the Himalayas and Tibet, whose main goal was to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in case of another war between the People's Republic of China and India.
Internal security agency with SF mandate
National Security Guard
The National Security Guard, which is a specialized counter-terrorism Federal Contingency Force. The NSG was formally created in 1986. It is modelled on the basis of the British Special Air Service and the German GSG 9. The NSG are popularly referred to as the 'Black Cats' due to their distinct black uniforms. It consists of the following two elements-
- SAG (Special Action Group), which recruits personnel from the Indian Army.
- SRG (Special Rangers Group), which recruits personnel from the Central Armed Police Forces.
Special Protection Group
The Special Protection Group is a specialised unit which provides protection to former Prime Ministers and the current Prime Minister of India, along with their family members for a minimum duration of 5 years. It was set up in 1985 after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
In Popular Culture
- In January 1988, a TV series titled Fauji (TV series) was released, which was the debut of Shahrukh Khan, following the training of an Indian Army commando regiment
- In April 2017, a web series titled The Test Case was released featuring the fictional story of the first woman training to serve in a combat role within the Indian special force.
- Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019) is a dramatised account of the tactical strike reportedly conducted by the Para (Special Forces) on the camps of terrorists across the Line of Control in retaliation for the 2016 Uri attack.
- Integrated entities
- Defence Planning Committee, tri-services command at policy level with NSA as its chief
- Integrated Defence Staff, tri-services command at strategic level composed of MoD, MEA and tri-services staff
- Armed Forces Special Operations Division, tri-services command at operational level
- Defence Space Agency, draws staff from all 3 services of Indian Armeed Forces
- Strategic Forces Command, nuclear command of India
- Indian Nuclear Command Authority, Strategic Forces Command
- Special Forces of India, tri-services, RAW and internal Security each has own units
- Andaman and Nicobar Command, first operational tri-services command
- List of Indian Air Force stations
- List of Indian Navy bases
- List of active Indian Navy ships
- India's overseas military bases
- Other nations
- Special Operations Forces Command (KSSO) - Russian equivalent command
- Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) - U.S. equivalent command
- General concepts
- Joint warfare, general concept
- Minimum Credible Deterrence
- List of cyber warfare forces of other nations
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