What is it like to be part of Indian Special Forces (PARA, MARCOS, Garud)?

Garud Aero India 2017

Being in Special Forces is an adventure of a lifetime. It means you are better than most of the men your age who are walking the world. Special Forces soldiers are grouped for unconventional warfare, the only unit in the military specifically designed to fight the type of counter-insurgency operations that is the need of the day.

Because of their task organization and inherent decentralization, Special Forces Personals have their own attitude, their own culture, and their own way of getting things done.

As a Special Forces Operative you have to remain flexible and versatile, shifting gears from one deployment to the next, one mission to the next, and adapting to each new situation as it presents it Personnel

All are equal in SF, Jawan or officer, they all know that they have to act like a unit is they want to survive. “When you are operating in small groups of 6 to a minimum of  2, you cannot afford attitude.”

Read Here: How to Join Special Forces of India

The reason for this is that during probation all ranks are suspended and only after you clear your SF probation and manage to enter training, is your rank restored. So Officer or Jawan, your mental strength, and physical caliber are the same, the only difference might be education and opportunity.

Special Forces are known as the soldier’s soldier. Each SF operative is an Army in-itself. It is not always necessary an officer will accompany them on all missions. To know what these men are made of you have to understand their physical and mental fitness

Here is what Indian Special Forces

PARA SF

The Para (SF) are not just Commandos, but elite commandos. Overuse is the reason that they have become battle-hardened, fighting insurgency in India all year round. The Para SF is so heavily involved in CT ops, that they themselves have started believing that this is their major task.

  • A Para’s routine begins with a 20 km morning run, when they are not on a mission or going through acclimatization training, which is a must for all Para SF operatives from time-to-time.
  • Para Operatives are always prepared for one-way ticket missions. Inside a dense forest, boxed into a single forested slope, all sight lines hidden by trees, sometimes they only see where the terrorists are, by the flash of their guns
  •  They are dropped into some vast, unknown forest area, on steep slopes, in complete darkness, and told, here, this is where you have to fight! As time passes, Their heartbeats do not increase anymore, It remains steady, Most Para SF Operatives lack heart-rate variability.
  • An SF Officer, RJ once said, “Mental toughness is extremely important, we are not allowed to panic. We have to keep calm. Cold, Wet, Sandy, Hot, Humid, Underwater, Skydiving, anything and everything is comfortable, get used to it… and oh the leaches in wet Jungle, 10–12, when you can’t get rid of them, get used to them! when you get back disinfect the sites, eat and drink well!”
  • Once you make up your mind, it becomes easy to come first during probation, You don’t get breathless or feel the heat till you have run at least 10 km.
  • Every Para Operative thinks on their own, Acts on their own. They have to be entirely independent. Most missions are in small teams, minimum of 2–3, maximum of 6, there are bigger mission, e.g. Operation Khukri or the surgical strikes, previous and present. Each of them is equipped to take fast decisions and lead and if an officer is on the team, there is nothing to worry about.
  • They are experts at hiding, moving in, hitting hard and moving out. If one were to hide just below your house, we can guarantee you will not be able to find him, unless he wants to be found
  • Time is a luxury they don’t have. There is no time for one to think twice before you have to neutralize a threat. You can’t really think about anything else except your target. Hesitate and you are dead. They are either in an operation, preparing for one, or coming back from one and in this frenzied state, death is always a close companion.” [many run for weeks or months when in J&K or Naxal areas…]

Today, SF is being used to do tasks which better-trained line infantry or para battalions can do. However, their training remains the samelearning local languages, crawling through mud, holding breath underwater, surviving in the jungle, guerrilla warfare, and most important doing successful missions in groups of two or three and surviving alone.

They are meant for secret operations deep within in foreign soil and trained for going to depths of 7 to 50 km inside (hostile territory), but as they are over-used and misused to fight insurgents all the time, so casualties are more.

When they are posted in J&K or in the North East, they are always on call and hardly have time to breathe. J&K, near China Border, Naxals, you name it and they have fought it. As they are overused, they are overexposed and have a higher life risk than all other SF counterparts.

MARCOS

MARCOS are in general like Triathletes (running, swimming, biking) where swimming involves at least 5 km daily.

  • MARCOS are the Indian counterpart of US Navy Seals. Now, most Naval Special Forces units around the world are the most secretive Units. Being All-rounders, they are preferred by the intelligence agencies to conduct clandestine operations in enemy territory.
  • They are trained in all conditions, but unlike Para (SF) which has different battalions specializing in Desert, Forest, Mountain, Urban, etc., involving lengthy acclimatization before deputation, MARCOS are especially trained for deep Aquatic Missions.
  • The Indian Navy is overly secretive anyway. Also, most MARCOS mission involves operating in Foreign Country or aquatic mission and hence kept secret, some, for example, involved joint operations with CIA and SEALS in finding Osama or fighting pirates and those in India also involve hiding among local people, which is why they are allowed beards etc., e.g. in J&K.
  • Marcos units posted at Jhelum and Wular Lake, in J&K have been known to have more casualties, though no death have been reported, which also may be due to their secretive nature, but injuries are numerous. The present CO of INS Krana ( MARCOS base), Shaurya Chakra Awardee Captain Varun Singh, was one such operative.

GARUD

The Garuds were raised for a different mandate for special Air Force tasks and not anti-terror operations They protect Air force bases and installations. Search, rescue and disaster relief are their expertise. They are also trained to operate behind enemy lines in the event of a war.

  • They usually have a fairly peaceful life, unless involved in UN operations like or when an Air Force Station is attacked, like in Pathankot.
  • Unlike its counterparts in the Army and Navy, candidates for Garud Commandos are not selected from volunteers of other branches. Recruitment to the Garuds is done directly through airmen selection centers via advertisements. Garud Officers are selected from Ground Duty branch of  Indian Air Force.
  • GARUD MANDATE: “Direct Action, Airfield Seizure, Special Reconnaissance, Airborne Operations, Air Assault Unconventional Warfare, Counter Terrorism, Foreign, Internal Defense Special Operations, Combat Search and Rescue COIN Special operations.”

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Also Check Out: 16 Things MARCOS do in their Training that would be impossible for Ordinary Humans.

Don’t Forget to Read: A Glimpse of Special Forces(Commando) Training of Indian Army.

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