Special Forces of India and their Mandate

Sandarbha Desk
Sandarbha Desk
Source: Patrika


  • India’s elite Special Forces are among some of the most formidable military units in the world.
  • 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.
  • They are rigorously trained and equipped to handle, support and conduct special operations.
  • Here is a list of some of Special Forces the elite Special Forces troops.

1.MARCOS ( Special Forces) 

  • The Marine Commandos (MARCOS) Special Forces  unit was created by the Indian Navy in 1987 to conduct special amphibious operations.
  • They are experts in maritime warfare and are also trained to engage in battles on all terrains.
  • They specialize in underwater operations in Jammu & Kashmir’s Jhelum river and Wular Lake.
  • They are also called the Dadiwala Fauj  by the terrorists because of their bearded disguise.
  • MARCOS are capable of firing while lying down, running in full speed, or looking into a mirror.
  • They are among the few Special Forces all over the world that are capable of being para-dropped into the sea with full combat load.
  • Its members have a key role in protecting maritime interests in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • The Indian Navy has commissioned INS Karna at Vishakhapatnam, the first dedicated base for this elite force.
  • MARCOS have successfully participated in operations undertaken by the Indian Navy. Examples- Operation Zabardast (Sri Lanka February 1993), Operation Leech (1998), Operation Tasha (1990-2009), Operation Sagittarius (anti-piracy operations in Malacca Strait) and Operation Rahat, among others.

2. COBRA ( Special Forces) 

  • Commando Battalion For Resolute Action (COBRA) Special Forces was created in 2008.
  • It is an integral part of CRPF and was created to tackle insurgent groups engaging in guerrilla warfare in India.
  • They are highly proficient in guerrilla tactics and jungle warfare, and are masters of camouflage, precision strikes, parachute jumps and ambushes.
  • Since its inception, the COBRA battalion has been involved in various battles with Naxalites and has played a key role in recovering weaponry from the insurgents.
  • It is also the best equipped Central Special Forces Armed Police unit.
  • Their sniper units are also one of the best among the armed forces of India.

3. GARUD ( Special Forces) 

  • It is the commando unit of the Indian Air Force and was created in 2004.
  • It specializes in Airfield Seizure, Special Reconnaissance, Airborne Operations, Air Assault and Search & Rescue missions.
  • They are also trained in fields like anti-hijack, para- trooping, demolition, snow survival, specialized weaponry and advanced driving skills.
  • It is also tasked with the protection of critical Air Force bases as well as rapid response to terror attacks on such installations.
  • In the aftermath of the Pathankot Terror Attack, Indian Air Force has decided to raise ten additional squadrons of GARUD commandos.

4. GHATAK ( Special Forces) 

  • Ghatak Platoon, or Ghatak Commandos, is a Special Forces operations platoon present in every infantry battalion in the Indian Army.
  • It is the first wave of Indian Army’s counter forces and usually consists of 20 soldiers.
  • Its 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.
  • 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.
  • They also collect battlefield intelligence and observe enemy movements by going very close to enemy formations.
  • They were extensively used in the 1999 Kargil conflict.

5. BLACK CATS ( Special Forces) 

  • The National Security Guards (NSG) are popularly called BLACK CATS.
  • This special force was formed in 1986.
  • They provide security to VIPs, conduct anti-sabotage checks and are responsible for neutralizing terrorists threats to India’s vital installations.
  • They have played a pivotal role in some of the important missions like Operation Black Thunder, Operation Ashwamedh, Operation Black Tornado and Operation Cyclone.
  • They are neither a part of the Central Armed Police Forces nor do they come under the paramilitary forces of India.
  • It has a mix of commandos from both the Special Forces Police and the Army.
  • NSG has two units- the Special Action Group (SAG) and the Special Ranger Group (SRG).
  • Black Cats are trained to tackle terrorism in all its manifestations.

6. SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE (SFF) ( Special Forces) 

  • It was created in the wake of the Indo-Sino War.
  • It specializes in unconventional warfare and covert operations behind enemy lines during events like wars.
  • 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.
  • It is based in Chakrata, Uttarakhand and works in sync with the Research & Analysis (RAW) wing, India’s external intelligence agency.
  • The force is also called Establishment 22.
  • SFF played a pivotal role in Operation Meghdoot (the Siachen Battle of 1985-86).
  • Since then, one of its units has been constantly guarding the Siachen Glacier, considered one of the world’s most inhospitable battle zones.

7. PARA-COMMANDO ( Special Forces) 

  • This unit was formed in 1966 as a part of the highly trained Parachute Regiment of the Indian Army.
  • They go behind enemy lines and inflict maximum damage in the least possible time.
  • They learn man-to-man assault practices and terrain-specific warfare.
  • They are taught specialized modes of infiltration and ex-filtration, either by air or sea.
  • They specialize in special operations, reconnaissance, direct action, high value targets and short-term unconventional warfare.
  • They are the only units in the Indian Army allowed to have tattoos on their body.
  • Their most notable operations include the 1971 war with Pakistan, the 1999 Kargil War and Operation Summer Storm in 2009.
  • They are Indian Army’s ‘crack force’ and are veterans in surprise attacks due to their quick reaction capabilities.

8. FORCE ONE( Special Forces) 

  • It was created in the aftermath of the Mumbai Terror attacks.
  • A need was felt to raise a special squad that could combat urban terror.
  • As a result, the youngest Indian Special Force unit called Force One was assembled.
  • Its motive is to protect Mumbai when under threat.
  • It is one of the fastest response team in the world as 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.
  • They undergo regular drills to prepare for possible attack scenarios around sensitive installations, with special emphasis laid on intelligence gathering and tactical formations.

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Security Forces and Their Mandate
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