Indian Special Forces mainly the Army Para SF, Navy MARCOS and Air Force Garuds have carved for themselves a niche in Unconventional Warfare and Special Operations Capability thanks to decades of Warfare experience and terrain knowledge which has made them an exceptional force to fare.
Here I will give few points to note how capable Indian Special Forces are and what makes it so capable ?
Operators of Different ethnicity :
India has a population of almost 1.3 Billion and just Indian Army is composed of 1.3 million soldiers (one of the largest standing armies) and that gives it a opportunity to possess a large number of Armed Personnel and Volunteers for its elite troopers. In India, there are thousand of cultures and hundreds of ethnicity like Ahirs, Nagas, Gurkhas, Garhwalis, Sikh and more which help it choose operators of varying physical level and IQ Capacity. Only few countries like USA can boast of this diversity and human resources which Indian Armed Forces possess. This helps the Indian SF a combat edge in different variety of missions and capabilities which its operators lend to unit.
2. Probation and Selection :
Indian boasts of a large pool of volunteers from which it can choose its Special Operators but the probation regime is quite hard which tests their endurance, physical and mental capability to their breaking point. The drop-out rate on average in all three wings of Special Forces is almost 80%-90% which speaks volumes about how tough the selection procedure is. India has its own concept of the famous “Hell Week” practised in United States where operators are put to a test of their capabilities to survive and fight in various terrains . Operators are also put through sleep deprivation, exploitation and total physical and mental breakdown. All countries conduct hard probation, to choose the best of the men for their elite corps and same is done in India. You can well know this aspect by the fact that there has been just one officer in 9 Para SF in back 4 years (you can take my word on that).
3. Versatility : In India there are different units for different combat scenarios where they specialize in. For example 9 PARA SF specializes in High-Altitude Warfare , 10 PARA SF specializes in Desert Warfare, MARCOS specializes in Marine Combat while Garuds specializes in CSAR and Airbase Destruction duties. This lends a versatility edge to Indian Special Forces which makes them even more combat effective with respect to the mission that needs to be carried out. Indian Special Forces mainly originated from PARA SF where they specialized in Sabotage, Cross-Border Raids and Behind the enemy lines operations but with time, there was a need felt for other duties as well like Marine Combat and more which lead to creation of other specialized units and hence the versatility.
PARA SF has a 6-man HIT team where each man specializes in a particular field like weapons specialist, communication specialist, medic, Navigation specialist, demolition specialist and squad commander who are fully trained to undertake any sort of clandestine mission role.
4. Availability of Resources :
How many countries can boast of a nuclear submarine? Indian Navy has successfully raised a small fleet of SSBNs and SSNs which it can use for Special Operations purpose. For example if a MARCOS team needs to infiltrate into enemy waters , it can call in INS Chakra which can escort them to the enemy waters after which they can deploy their Cosmos two-man submarine and carry out the mission. Indian Armed Forces gives it Special Forces a hell lot of resources to bank upon which include basic gear, firearms to support logistics which help them to carry out any operation.
Indian Special Forces are mostly dependent on Israeli and Western manufacturers for their basic weaponry with other requirements filled by in-house development. But all this depends on the mission profile they participate in. They can even carry out off-shelf acquisition of weapons and hardware if needed, thanks to the “Commander’s fund” government bestows upon them. For example, 1 PARA SF procured BPJs from US in 1980s when they were to go to Sri Lanka and Special Group bought Ballistic Helmets and BPJs from Israel in 1980s.
Indian Special Forces are also the first to enjoy any new type of weaponry being inducted into Indian Armed Forces and freedom to customize and choose their weapons as will. Indian Special Forces boasts of Naval and Air Assets since it possess an Aircraft Carrier, numerous Destroyers and Frigates and Strategic Aircrafts like C-17 and C-130. For specialized purposes they also have helos like Dhruvs , Mi-17v5 and SeaKings for rapid infil nd exfil in Specialized purposes.
5. Deployment and Cross-Training :
Indian Special Forces deployment is not as varied as western Special Forces. Indian Special Forces in past has been deployed to Somalia, Sri lanka, Sierra Leone and others like Afghanistan and taken part in most conflicts India has been a part off including UN Peacekeeping Missions. Indian SFs are currently deployed in Kashmir, North Eastern India where they take part in CI/CT and clandestine operations to safeguard national and strategic interests.
Indian Special Forces have not sufficiently regarded of Overseas deployment outside their combat orbit due to Government policies of non-engagement in other nation affairs though they are deployed if sufficient strategic interests are at stake.
Cross-training has been a lot advantageous for Indian Special Forces since they gain new experiences through this. Ever since their inception , Para SF and MARCOS has carried out joint exercises with almost 40+ nations around the world like US Green Berets, NAVY SEALS, British SAS, Australian SASR, French GIGN, German GSG9 and Russian Spetsnaz including others.
6. Availability of Combat Schools :
Indian Special Forces earlier depended on Foreign Special Forces for training of its elite men but that changed with establishment of various Military Academies and Combat Schools in India like Army Airborne Training School, CIJW School, High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS), Diving School and Indian Special Forces Training School (SFTS). These schools are also attended by foreign visitors from other nations which shows how highly they are regarded. Different men from different SF units undergo Specialization courses here which gives them the combat edge.
This enough sums up how good is Indian Special Forces and what gives them a combat edge and capability to wage warfare protecting national and strategic interests which they have proved time and again in various operations.