Special Services Wing
|Special Service Wing|
|Active||1965 - 1972, 2004 - Present|
|Branch||Pakistan Air Force|
|Size||800 - 1200 men|
|Part of||Pakistani Special Forces|
|Garrison/HQ||Kallar Kahar, Punjab|
|Motto(s)||Faith, Piety, to strive in the path of Allah', 'Thunder and lightning is a message of death for you '|
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
War in North-West Pakistan
|Group Captain (Colonel) Sohail Ahmed|
The Special Service Wing (SSW), codename the SS Wing, or previously known as 312th Special Service Wing or Maroon berets, is a special operations aerospace unit of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). The SS Wing or Maroon Berets are an elite, special operations force based on the United States Air Force's Special Tactics Squadrons and the United States Army Rangers. The SSW is a new military division of the Special Forces Command of the Pakistan Armed Forces. The division has recently been revived and is fielding between 800 and 1200 troops.
After the 1965 war with India, Air Cdre (Brigadier-General) Mukhtar Ahmad Dogar (SJ), who had flown Royal Indian Air Force aircraft supporting the Chindits Operating behind Japanese lines in Burma, was instrumental in creating a special forces unit for the Pakistan Air Force called SAW (Special Airwarfare Wing). The SAW was raised in 1966 under the command of Air Commodore Mukhtar Ahmad Dogar but, in 1972, the unit was discharged. The Air Force personnel and soldiers were merged with the Special Service Group and most of its members had actively participated during the Afghan War in the 1980s.
In 1999, the concept of a special forces wing for the Air Force was again revived after the Kargil War with India. Senior officials and military scientists of the Pakistani Armed Forces were impressed in the way that United States Army Special Forces during the initial phase of the war in Afghanistan were able to secure targets, set up runways and airstrips for immediate use and direct strategic and tactical air strikes on enemy positions so quickly. The Air Force established the division under the name Special Service Wing (SSW). The training was undertaken by the Special Service Group (SSG) with new principles, doctrines and specialization from the United States. The close cooperation between the United States and Pakistani military since 2001 allowed many SSW soldiers to go to the United States to be trained on a regular basis. All of its members of SSW must have to be HALO/HAHO qualified with a skilled operations ability. The unit became operational in 2004. Recently, most of its members have completed or graduated with the members of 1st Special Operations Wing in the United States. The one of the combat brigade of Special Service Wing had been carrying out special day-light aerial and night-aerial operations during the recent insurgencies inside Pakistan. The one of the combat unit, alongside Navy's SSGN and Army's SSG, have actively participated in recent operations led by the Pakistan Army in Waziristan.
All the SSW members get their initial training from Army's Special Operation School, Cherat. Soldiers wanting to join the SSW must have at least two years of service before they can join.
First they will be given basic training at Pakistan Air Force Ground Combatier School Kallar Kahar for a 6–8 weeks. The initial course emphasizes tough physical conditioning and endurance. This includes a 40-mile march in 12 hours with 20 kg weight and a 5-mile run in 35 minutes with full gear (60-80 lbs) among the many physically demanding challenges. The concept of the initial training is designed to weed out the weak candidates. The drop out rate is very high; those who survive the initial training are then sent to Army Special Operation School for 9-12 Months for specialized training.
The advanced training includes Anti-terrorist & hostage rescue, Minor Ops, basic desert, mountain, water, snow survival training, unarmed combat, firing with all types of weapons, intelligence, static line equipment jumps, diving etc. Many in the SSW are selected for additional specialist training. A HALO/HAHO course is given at Risalpur with a "Skydiver" tab awarded after 30 free fall jumps. For HAHO minimum 150 Free fall jumps along with 10 Night equipment free fall jumps are required. A "Mountain Warfare" qualification badge is given after completing a course at the Army Mountain Warfare School in Ratto; and a "Combat Diver" badge is awarded for the course held by the Naval Special Services Group SSGN at School of Divers PNS Hamalaya Karachi or by SSG(ARMY)'s MUSA company at Mangla .
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The SSW uses different types of modern weapons, including:
- FN F2000 Belgium
- M4 Carbine USA
- Type 81 Assault Rifle China Pakistan
- Type 56 Assault Rifle China Pakistan
- M16 rifle USA
- Steyr AUG Austria
Sub Machine Guns
The SSW combat members are trained and qualified to carry out missions in unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, direct action by sabotage and offensive raiding, Counter terrorism, counter-proliferation, VIP protection, and information and intelligence gathering operations. They have also carried out Combat search and rescue (CSAR), security assistance, humanitarian assistance.
They are also trained to be ground operators certified to act as air traffic controllers in hostile and dangerous environments. They can take over or construct an airstrip, set up navigational equipment, and direct airplanes and helicopters to a safe landing without the use of a tower or elaborate communications system. They also control air attacks of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft from all military services.
They will also have the capability to perform search and rescue, typically of (but not limited to) downed pilots. They will be trained and able both to fight with virtually any special operations unit and to act as paramedics on the battlefield.
Some members of SSW will have the ability to gather and interpret meteorological and oceanographic information, as well as act as forward ground combatants. Their primary mission would be to collect and disseminate forward observations in denied, hostile, or otherwise data-sparse regions. But can be used for any kind of task as every member is trained for multiple tasks.
Special Service Wing has five squadrons and one separate Flight Wing.
- PAF No. 1st Special Operations Squadron - The No. 1st Special Operation Squadron is one of PAF's aggressor squadron. The members of No. 1 Special Operations Squadron are fighter-pilots by profession graduated from Combat Commander's School, but are also trained to participate with Pakistan Army's SSG Anti-Terrorist Group. The No. 1 SOS are currently participated in War in West-Pakistan along with Navy's SSG Naval Special Forces. They are distinguished when they had participated in Operation Black Thunderstorm led by Pakistan Army's 50th Airborne Division.
- No. 2 Special Operations Squadron (2nd SOS)- The No. 2 Special Operation Squadron is dispatched with ISI, CIA and 427th Special Operations Squadron. It performs clandestine missions as part of the Global War on Terrorism, as part of the effort to destroy Al Qaeda.
- PAF No. 3rd Special Operations Squadron - Anti Terrorist and Hostage Rescue Squadron, The No. 3 Squadron is trained for an immediate evacuation of hostages and high-value military personnel in a war-zone crises.
- No. 4th Special Operations Squadron (4th SOS)- The No. 4 Squadron is based on providing Very Important Person (VIP) protection to state leaders and other VIP personnel's flight. The No. 4th Squadron is currently assigned to Islamabad, Pakistan.
- No. 5th Paratrooper Training Squadron (5th PTS) - The members of No. 5th Paratrooper Squadrons are the Airborne forces of Pakistan Air Force. Together, they perform and participated in military operations led by Pakistan Army 50th Airborne Division.
- No. 10th Special Reconnaissance Flight Squadron (10th SRF) - The Number 10th Special Reconnaissance Flight Squadron are tasked with taking reconnaissance flights in enemy territories. The 10th SRF Group is closely associated with Pakistan's ISI Special Operations Directorate (SOD). As of today, the 10th SRF Squadron is participating in War in North-West Pakistan, notably Operation Black Thunderstorm and Operation Rah-e-Nijat, where they had taken numerous reconnaissance sorties and targeted high-value targets.
Each Squadron consists of 250-400 men. Squadrons are divided into numerous flights which are further subdivided into 10-12 men teams. Squadrons are commanded by Wing Commanders/Squadron leaders.
SSW (Special Services Wing) is distinguished by maroon berets with PAF Officer, JCO or Airmen berret insignia], and a wing on the right side of the chest. The combat uniform of the SSW is green jungle camouflage. They also wear their wing insignia.
The SSW could be equipped with a different type of modern weaponry which includes FN F2000 and P90. Light machine gun in use is Rheinmetall MG3 it is suspected that they may be having MINIMI. In sniper or Marksman role, the SSW teams are equipped with Dragunov SVD Semi-automatic rifles. Accuracy International 7.62 & 12.7. Side arm is FN Herstal Five Seven. They may also be equipped with anti aircraft weapons. They are also equipped with UAVs for recon.
The precursor to the SSW, the Special Airwarfare Wing fought in the 1971 Winter War. They were assigned to operate in Jammu and Kashmir and Dhaka, East-Pakistan. They were also kept standing by for airborne assault at different IAF bases. During the 1980s, the SSW were assigned to operated alongside Army special forces in areas bordering Afghanistan. Recently, the SSW were dispatched with 50th Airborne Division of Pakistan Army and the Special Service Group (SSG). During the conflict, the SSW unit have participated in different helo borne and airborne assaults during recent SWAT and Wazirstan operations.
Since the formation of SSW in 2004, they have been engaged in fighting against militants in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and FATA region. SSW Also participated in repelling a Major Terrorist Attack over Pakistan Air Force Base Kamra alongside Army's SSG on the Night of 15/16 August 2012.