‘Special Forces of India – Best and the Deadliest’

In the world of military, no other army unit fascinates us more than the Special Force. It shouldn’t come as a shock that the Indian Special Forces are considered to be one of the best and deadliest. Each Special Force is created to carry out a specific operation and are widely feared among terrorists. Here is a comprehensive list of all the Special Forces operating in India.


Capable of undertaking operations in all types of terrains and specialised in maritime operations, MARCOS (Marine Commandos) is a very secretly operating unit of the Indian Navy.

Candidates for MARCOS are selected from Indian Navy through a rigorous process. The pre-training selection includes a five-week process called “hell’s week” in which a candidate is put into physical torture and sleep deprivation. Only around 10% clear the pre-training tests and advance to the actual training. MARCOS are trained for about 3 years in every aspect of modern warfare and close combat. They are taught to use all kinds of weapons – right from knives and crossbows to assault rifles and even taught to combat with bare hands. They are one of the best divers and trained to swim underwater to reach hostile shores.

MARCOS are a nightmare for terrorists and are most feared. They call them “Dadiwali Fauj” because of their bearded disguise. MARCOS have been successful in most of the anti-terror operations.

2. Para Commandos

One of the largest Special Force of India as well as one of the oldest unit, Para Commandos is a Special Forces unit of the Indian Army’s Parachute Regiment.

No Special Force unit in the world has such a long and tough selection process as that of the Para Commandos’. The selection process is such that reported deaths in the process is not an uncommon thing. Almost 95% candidates give up and drop out in the process.

Post-selection process comes the training period which again is one of the longest anywhere in the world. In the 3.5 year long initial training process, they are trained extensively in either combat freefall (air) or combat diving (sea).

The Para Commandos were recently involved in the successful cross-border operation along Indo-Myanmar border where they destroyed the Militant camps of NSCN (K) and KYKL.

Para Commandos are considered one of the best and Special Operation Forces from US and UK have often approached Para Commandos to impart special training to their personnel.

3. Special Frontier Force (SFF)
speccial frontier force

This paramilitary Special Force was created in 1962, in the event of another Sino-Indian war like situation. They are specialised in carrying out covert operations behind the Chinese lines.

The SFF is operated by intelligence agency RAW and reports directly to the Prime Minister. It is also the parent unit of NSG.

The initial training for SFF personnel is about 9 months and is similar to that of the Indian Army. All the commandos are parachute qualified and are also well trained in guerilla warfare.

SFF was extremely successful against Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. It was also used in combating communal riots during the Operation Blue Star in 1984.

There have been several reports of SFF being involved in cross-border raids and intelligence operations due to which they are prohibited and are not deployed within 10 kms of the Indo-Chinese border. Currently, one SFF battalion is stationed in the Siachen Glacier.

4. National Security Guard (NSG)

Designed to counter terrorists in the Indian soil, this Special Force comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). They are also tasked with counter hijacking, hostage rescue, bomb disposal and most importantly for the protection of VIPs.

Headed by a DGP from the Indian Police Service, NSG is 7,500 strong with mainly two divisions : Special Action Group (SAG), the main strike wing whose members are picked from the Indian Army and Special Ranger Groups (SRG) whose members are drawn on deputation from Central Armed Police Forces and State Police Forces.

The selection process is very tough with about 80% dropout rates. The training includes cross-country obstacle courses, jumping from heights, scaling all kinds of terrains and several other modern tactics. They are also imparted Martial Arts training during this period.

The NSG personnel are often called as ‘Black Cat Commandos” due to their black uniforms with a cat sign. The most notable NSG operation was the Operation Black Tornado in 2008 where they had killed 9 terrorists and rescued around 600 hostages in the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks.

5. Special Protection Group (SPG)

This Special Force is a security force of the Government of India which provides security to the Prime Minister of India, President of India, former Prime Ministers of India and members of their immediate families.

The head of the SPG is appointed by Central Govt. and has always been an officer from the Indian Police Service. SPG personnel are mostly drawn from Central Armed Police Forces & Railway Protection Force.

SPGs are generally armed with Assault Rifles and Pistols which are hidden in their suits and are well connected with a myriad of communication devices. They always follow PM in his motorcade which involves two armoured BMW 7 Series Sedan, six BMW X3, Mercedes Benz ambulance and a Tata Safari jammer along with several other escort vehicles. They are also well positioned before the PM arrives at his destination. Their task is to provide the firepower cover to allow enough time for the Protective Detail to get the PM to safety, in case of any eventuality.

The SPGs are considered to be rude and usually wear trademark safari suits or formal suits so as to appear refined and graceful.

6. Garud Commando Force

Derived its name from a divine bird like creature of Hindu Mythology, this Special Force is a unit of Indian Air Force specialised in search and rescue operations during hostile situations as well as during natural calamities. Protection of critical air force bases and installations also comes under their responsibility.

Unlike the other Indian Special Forces, the recruitment to Garud is not from the volunteers of other branches, but through the airmen selection centres. The eligible candidates are put through a rigorous physical training which can take upto 3 years to qualify as a Garud.

Recruitment to the Garud is done directly through airmen selection centres via advertisements and not from the volunteers of other branches. Candidates found eligible for the force are put through a process of rigorous physical training. SFF and NSG are among the ones who impart training to them.

Garudas are a part of the UN peace keeping contingent deployed to Congo. They also operate in the J&K region alongside Army special forces to gain operational exposure.


COBRA (Combat Battalion for Resolute Action) is a special unit of the CRPF designed to counter Naxalism in India. They are specifically trained in guerilla warfare to track and hunt Naxal groups in the region.

They are rigorously trained in CRPF’s anti terrorist school in Silchar and the elite Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Mizoram to carry out long range patrols, gathering intelligence of whereabouts of insurgents and carry out precision strikes. They are also trained to headshot the key targets when required.

There are about 10 COBRA units in India at present which has been successful in eliminating many Naxal groups and the recovery of huge cache of arms/ammunitions.

Admirable India

Post by: Vivek Swamy


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