Special Forces- the less talked of arm of the Indian Army

Special Forces

India has got the third largest army in the world with 1.3 million active military personnel but when it comes to conducting operations such as reconnaissance, hostage rescue, amphibious warfare, close quarter combat, Special Forces are called into action instead. Special Forces men carry out some of the most arduous tasks, and yet live the most secretive and buttoned up lives.

Unlike conventional armed forces, Special Forces operate with stealth, speed and surprise to achieve their aim. In this list, we will be looking at some of the deadliest and clandestine military units specialised in high risk operations such as infiltration, reconnaissance and hostage rescue.


It is a special force unit of the Indian Air Force that came into existence in September 2004. The selection of Garud commandos happens directly through airmen selection centers, via advertisements. After selection, they have to undergo a 72 week long basic training course, which is the longest amongst all Indian special forces.

Special Forces

A trainee can be qualified as a fully operational Garud only after a 3 year long irksome training. With a strength of about 1080 personnel, they are deployed at all the major air force bases for protection against any threats posed by the terrorists. Garuds also specialise in disaster relief and rescue operations.


Ghatak means ”one with killer ingredients”. This name was given by General Bipin Joshi, a renowned name in the Indian Army. Every infantry battalion of the Indian Army subsumes a Ghatak platoon to carry out operations like reconnaissance, raiding enemy airfields and artillery positions, and counter terrorism.

Every Ghatak platoon is 20 men strong comprising of one commanding captain, two non-commissioned officers, a medic, a radio operator, a marksmen spotter. The rest are assault troopers capable of surviving through harshest of the conditions.


Formed in response to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Force one is an elite counter terrorism unit aimed to guard the Mumbai metropolitan area. It has the fastest response time to a terrorist attack and responds to a terror strike in 15 minutes flat.

Special Forces


Comprising of 1000 active personnel, this unit is active since 2009. It is a specialized unit of CRPF proficient in guerilla tactics and jungle warfare. Equipped with weapons like X-95, glock pistols, AK rifle, it is the best equipped central armed police unit in India. This unit was built to counter the naxalite problem and ever since the creation of this unit there has been a gradual decrease in the terror crimes committed by the naxalites.


Marcos go by the motto “the few, the fearless”. Also known as “dadiwala fauj” due to their distinctive bearded look, they strike terror in the hearts of their enemy. It is a special force unit of the Indian Navy which specializes in amphibious warfare, CQB, counter terrorism and hostage rescue.

Special Forces

Marcos are males selected from the Indian Navy and all the recruits have to undergo a rigorous 2 to 3 years training before getting qualified as a Marcos commando. Equipped with weapons like IMI GTAR-21, IMI TAR-21, MG2A1 machine gun, Marcos are capable of successfully carrying out any task assigned to them.


Also known as the blackcat, NSG came into existence in 1984 following the assassination of the then Prime Minister of India Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Its job is to provide security to VIPs and respond to terrorist attacks within the nation. The NSG is basically divided into two groups:-

A) Special action group (SAG)

B) Special rangers group (SRG)

Special Forces

SAG comprises of 54% of the force and its members are drawn directly from the Indian Army. While SRG comprises of members on deputation from various centralised police forces. Its job is to provide assistance to SAG in various operations. NSG has established hubs Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hydrabad.


It is a special force unit of the Indian Army’s Parachute regiment. Since its creation in 1966, PARA SF commandos have actively engaged in different wars and operations. Recently, they came under limelight after conducting surgical strikes at various terrorist launch pads in POK. Presently, PARA SF is 8 batallion strong and is headquartered at Bengaluru.

PARA commandos can be easily distinguished from their maroon berets. Trained in conducting missions like hostage rescue, reconnaissance, counter terrorism, intelligence gathering and cross border operations, PARA SF is the most feared elite Special Force of India


Special Frontier Force or the SFF is a paramilitary special force based in Chakrata Uttarakhand. SFF is supervised by RAW, so most of its missions are secretive and classifieds in nature. It was created on 14 November 1962 in order to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in case of another Indo-Chinese war.

Special Forces

It has also been an active part of the Bangladesh liberation war, Kargil war, Operation Pawan and Operation Rakshak.

So which one did you find the most impressive? Let us know in the comments below!


– Sharanpal Sudan

Edited by Mrinaal Datt

Read more about them here.



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