The Special Forces of Indian Armed Forces refer to those units which are under the direct command of the Indian military and specifically organised, trained, and are equipped to conduct and support special operations.
Para (Special Forces)
The 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, 1st 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 regt in 1952, converted to commando in 1978)
- 2 PARA (SF) (ex-3 Maratha LI, converted to special forces in 1999.)
- 3 PARA (SF) (ex-1st Kumaon, 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 was a major infiltration point for terrorists.
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.
Indian Air Force
Garud Commando Force
Garud trainees undergo a 72-week probation training course, which is the longest among all the Indian special forces. 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).
Other Indian special forces
- Special Frontier Force
- National Security Guard, a counter-terrorism unit of India
- Chindits, erstwhile special operations unit of the colonial British Indian Army
- Commando Battalion for Resolute Action, is a specialised unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) of India proficient in guerrilla tactics and jungle warfare. Originally established to counter the Naxalite problem,CoBRA is deployed to address any insurgent group engaging in asymmetrical warfare.
- 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.
- 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.
- "Welcome to The Parachute Regiment". www.indianparachuteregiment.kar.nic.in. Archived from the original on 22 June 2015.
- "Mumbai attacks: the bureaucracy of India's marine commandos". The Guardian. 6 December 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Deadly delay in calling the marine commandos". The Economic Times. 30 November 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "15 Reasons The Indian Navy MARCOS Are The Best In The World". India times. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- "Garud: IAF's commando force takes off". Rediff. Press Trust of India. 6 February 2004. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- P. C. Katoch; Saikat Datta (2013). India's Special Forces: History and Future of Special Forces. Vij Books India Pvt Ltd. ISBN 978-93-82573-97-5.
- Elite commando units of India: MARCOS, COBRA, NSG & more