The need for highly trained soldiers was realised after the Second World War, and thus the Special Forces were made. From reconnaissance and assault missions to counter-terrorism and hostage rescue, Special Forces take on some of the hardest missions and live some of the most secret lives in the military world.
Most of us know about the American Marines, Navy Seal and other American Special Forces- all thanks to Hollywood. But it’s a shame for us that we hardly know about our own Indian Special Forces, that rank amongst the best in the world.
Here are 8 Indian Special Forces which are lesser known and every Indian should be proud of.
MARCOS or Marine Commandos is the elite special forces of Indian Naval Forces. Experts in maritime warfare, MARCOS commandos are trained to engage in battle on all terrains. The training for MARCOS is probably the most stringent in the world as the commandos would be tested for their mental and physical preparedness.
More than 80% of the applicants drop out in the first stage of enrollment itself, a three-day long physical fitness test that is one of the toughest in the world. Those that make it through are then subjected to a five-week-long process called ‘hell’s week’, which includes extreme sleep deprivation and incredibly tough physical tasks. The final stages of the training include an 800 meter long thigh-high mud crawl (called the ‘death crawl’) that is concluded with shooting a target 25 meters away with a man standing next to it.
At the end of this formidable training, these commandos are capable of firing while lying down, running in full sprint, or looking into a mirror- with a reaction time of 0.27 seconds. MARCOS are also among the handful of special forces from around the world that are capable of being para-dropped into the sea with the full combat load.
2- Para Commandos
A highly trained crack force, the main job of the Para Commandos is to help the main army get into the enemy lines without much damage. This kind of quick deployment of soldiers behind the enemy lines can destroy their first line of defence.
Para Commandos have one of the most gruelling commando training regimes in the world. Apart from running 20 km daily with 60 kg baggage, and free falls from heights of as much as 33,500 feet, they also learn man-to-man assault practices and terrain-specific warfare. They are taught specialised modes of infiltration and exfiltration, either by air (combat freefall) or sea (combat diving).
Their most notable operations include the 1971 war with Pakistan, the 1999 Kargil war and the infamous Operation Bluestar in 1984.
3- Garud Commando Force
The commando unit of the Indian Air Force, GARUD has almost 2000 commandos. This elite unit specialises in Airfield Seizure, Special Reconnaissance, Airborne Operations, Air Assault and Search and Rescue missions, including those behind enemy lines. It is also tasked with the protection of critical Air Force bases as well as rapid response to terror attacks on such installations.
The training is so tough that it can take up to 3 years to qualify as a fully operational Garud. Their training includes niche fields such as anti-hijack, para trooping, demolition, snow survival, specialised weaponry, and advance driving skills.
4- Ghatak Force
Ghatak Commandos, is a special operations platoon present in every infantry battalion in the Indian Army. The first wave of Indian Army’s counter forces, the Ghatak Platoon usually consists of 20 soldiers whose mission is to launch a quick attack on a particular target and annihilate it so that the forward movement of the company or battalion is not slowed down or stopped.
Only the most physically fit and motivated soldiers make it into the Ghatak Platoon. They usually operate without support from the rest of the battalion and are trained to conduct raids on enemy artillery positions, airfields, supply dumps and tactical headquarters. Another of their key tasks is to collect battlefield intelligence and observe enemy movements by going very close to enemy formations. These shock and assault troops would climb up the cliffs from the rear and create a safe area for the rest of battalion to launch an attack.
5- National Security Guard Or Black Cats
Formed in 1986, the National Security Guards are popularly called Black Cats . Led by the Director General of the Indian Police Service, Black Cats are neither a part of the Central Armed Police Forces nor do they come under the Paramilitary Forces of India. A mix of commandos from both the police and the army, NSG has two units – the Special Action Group (SAG) and the Special Ranger Group (SRG). Equipped with some of the most advanced weapons in the world, Black Cats are trained to tackle terrorism in all its manifestations. For this, they undergo a brutal training period of 9 months, which has a dropout rate as high as 70-80 percent.
6- COBRA (Commando Battalion For Resolute Action)
Commando Battalion For Resolute Action is an integral part of CRPF that came into action in order to tackle insurgent groups engaging in guerrilla warfare in India. Highly proficient in guerrilla tactics and jungle warfare, these commandos are masters of camouflage, precision strikes, parachute jumps, and ambushes. Ranked among India’s more experienced and successful law enforcement units, COBRA is also the best equipped Central Armed Police unit. Their sniper units are also one of the best among the armed forces of India.
7- Special Frontier Force
Created on November 14, 1962, in the wake of the Indo-Sino War, Special Frontier Force specialises in special reconnaissance, direct action, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, unconventional warfare and covert operations behind enemy lines during events like wars. Keeping this in mind, the commandos are trained for extreme conditions, with special attention paid to guerrilla tactics, mountain and jungle warfare, parachute jumps, special reconnaissance, and hostage rescue. The SFF works in sync with RAW (Research and Analysis Wing).
8- Force One
After the Mumbai terror attacks, the Maharashtra government woke up to the need of raising a special squad that could combat urban terror and assembled the youngest Indian special force unit called Force One. The sole motive of Force One is to protect Mumbai when under threat. Force One is one of the fastest response teams in the world – it can ready an armed unit and leave for a hostage situation in less than 15 minutes. From over 3000 applications from both the army and the police, the best 216 were selected and then trained under close guidance from the Israeli Special Forces.