Indian Special Forces

Discussion in 'Strategic Forces' started by Triton, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

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    I understand that presently COBRAS are mandated to carry out anti-naxal OPs only, but are their plans to press them in CI roles in general?

    For instance, are we likely to see COBRAS inducted in North-East, where their anti-Naxal experiences would be valuable or even in J&K?

    Secondly, how do COBRAS and Greyhounds compare with regular infantry of Ghataks?
     
  2. COLDHEARTED AVIATOR

    COLDHEARTED AVIATOR Regular Member

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    In J&K they have well trained QRT teams and the CRPF has a different role in Kashmir.In the North east they could be deployed but right now they are quite busy with Naxal ops just like PARA SF in Kashmir.

    Since their instructors are Indian Army ex Ghataks so they are quite comparable to them.

    But what has happened is that their constant deployment in a conflict zone has made them gain valuable experience against a big enemy.

    Experience is everything in a war.No unit worth its salt can be what it claims to be without any experience.

    A unit with no experience always ends up having a lot of casualties in its first conflict and the learning curve is 90 degrees.Slowly and steadily they bring the count down and start dominating.

    Has happened with every force and will keep happening.
     
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  3. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

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    I think it's good to have a wide range of options to choose from when deploying forces with special capabilities for CI ops. COBRA deployment in NE will free up IA regiments for actions elsewhere.
     
  4. HarshBardhan

    HarshBardhan Casper

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    Indian Navy Marine Commandos- #MARCOS showing some action and their skills for Navy Day-2017 in simulated exercises like hostage rescue operations , slithering from helicopters , beach assault , amphibious landing on shore by naval vessels using Landing Craft Mechanised and sky divers landing at designated spot.

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  5. HarshBardhan

    HarshBardhan Casper

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    More pics of MARCOS

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  6. HarshBardhan

    HarshBardhan Casper

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    Indian Army Para SF and Kyrgyzstan Special Forces during Exercise Khanjar-2016

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  7. Nanjesh Patel

    Nanjesh Patel Regular Member

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    Para Special Forces atop an undisclosed Peak. Height above 7000 M (23000 ~ Ft).

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    #Shatrujeet009
     
  8. S.Balaji

    S.Balaji Regular Member

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    A rare but comprehensive article i found on SFF on the net.....don't know whether it was posted

    Indian Special Frontier Force (SFF)
    Elite & Special Forces Main Page Indian Elite & Special Forces Main Page

    This article is organised as follows:

    • Part 01: Introduction to the Indian Special Frontier Force (SFF)
    • Part 02: Hierarchy of SFF.
    • Part 03: Organisation of SFF.
    • Part 04: Recruitment, Selection and Training of SFF.
    • Part 05: Training Establishments.
    • Part 06: Miscellaneous.
    1.0 Introduction
    [​IMG]“There is some debate over whether this secretive force has preserved its elite status as well as its original mandate.” (Rehman, 2017, p.118).

    This article is about the Indian unit known as the Special Frontier Force (SFF), also known as Establishment 22 or Two-Two, and occasionally as the “Phantoms of Chittagong”. (Chowdhury, 2015).

    “Both the Indian and Pakistani Special Forces were established with the active involvement of the CIA in the mid-1950s. In 1962, the Kennedy administration worked with India for the creation of a Special Frontier Forces (SFF) unit in the Indian military.” (Sinha & Balakrishnan, 2016, p.3).

    Although India has the Parachute Regiment, dating back to Word War II, it was an Elite Force (EF) that would later be augmented with Special Forces (SF) units. Katoch and Datta (2013) state that the first true special force of an independent India was the Special Frontier Force (SFF), which recruited exiled Tibetans, in 1962.

    The SFF is a Special Operations Forces (SOF) unit which specialises in unconventional warfare and covert operations behind enemy lines. Thus, SFF Commandos are trained for extreme conditions, with special attention paid to guerrilla tactics, mountain warfare, parachute jumps, hostage rescue and counter-terrorism operations.

    This article will provide the reader with an outline of the Indian Special Frontier Force, providing a brief history and their role and purpose. It will then provide an outline of the hierarchy and organisation of Indian SFF moving on to describe the selection and training process. Finally, the article will discuss some of the training establishment which deliver training to Indian SFF candidates before providing some useful links, publications and references.

    1.1 Brief History of SFF
    [​IMG]The Indo-China War, also known as The Sino-Indian War and The Sino-Indian Border Conflict, was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962 concerning a disputed Himalayan border which was the main pretext for war, although other issues played a role.

    There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, when India had granted asylum to the Dalai Lama. India initiated a Forward Policy in which it placed outposts along the border, including several north of the McMahon Line, the eastern portion of a Line of Actual Control proclaimed by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1959.

    Unable to reach political accommodation on disputed territory along the 3,225-kilometre-long Himalayan border, the Chinese launched simultaneous offensives in Ladakh and across the McMahon Line on 20 October 1962. Chinese troops advanced through Indian forces in both theatres, capturing Rezang la in Chushul in the western theatre, as well as Tawang in the eastern theatre.

    The war ended when China declared a unilateral ceasefire on 20/21 November 1962 and simultaneously announced its withdrawal from the disputed area. Indian posts and patrols were removed from Aksai Chin, which came under direct Chinese control after the end of the conflict.

    The Indo-China War is notable for the harsh mountain conditions under which much of the fighting took place, entailing large-scale combat at altitudes of over 4,000 metres (14,000 feet). The Indo-China War was also noted for the non-deployment of the Navy and Air Force of either side.

    It is noteworthy that the build-up and offensive from China occurred concurrently with the Cuban Missile Crisis (16–28 October 1962) that saw both the United States and the Soviet Union confronting each other.

    “In 1962, the Kennedy administration worked with India for the creation of a Special Frontier Forces (SFF) unit in the Indian military.” (Sinha & Balakrishnan, 2016, p.3).

    “Following the 1962 Sino-Indian border war, India also set up a 10,000-strong unit call the Special Frontier Force (SFF), or Establishment 22. Composed of ethnic Tibetans and modeled on the U.S. Army’s Green Berets, they were trained to operate deep behind Chinese lines in the Tibetan autonomous region. This unit still exists, although it remains unclear whether it has preserved its elite status.” (WPR, 2015).

    Consequently, the Special Frontier Force (SFF) was formally established on 14 November 1962, just seven days before the ceasefire. The Cabinet Secretariat (Section 2.1) had ordered the raising of an elite guerrilla force composed mainly of Tibetan refugees.

    “Composed of thousands of ethnic Tibetans, many of whom had been resistance fighters in the TAR or part of the Dalai Lama’s bodyguard, the SFF was an elite unit of paratroopers trained in mountain warfare, sabotage, and demolition.” (Rehman, 2017, p.123).

    Its main goal was to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in the event of another Indo-China War. The first Inspector General of the SFF was a retired Indian Army Major General (OF-7), Sujan Singh Uban, who was known for his unconventional thinking (Bedi, 2015).

    [​IMG]Soon the SFF came to be known as ‘Establishment 22’ due to General Singh, a Military Cross holder and a legendary figure in the British Indian Army, who commanded the 22nd Mountain Regiment during World War II in Europe and a Long-Range Desert Squadron in North Africa.

    The SFF made its home base at Chakrata, 100 km from the city of Dehra Dun. Chakrata was home to the large Tibetan refugee population and was a mountain town in the foothills of the Himalayas. With a planned strength of 12,000, the SFF commenced six months of training in rock climbing and guerrilla warfare.

    The Intelligence agencies from India and the US also helped in raising the SFF; namely the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA, the US external intelligence agency) & the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW, India’s external intelligence agency). The SFF’s initial weapons were provided by the US and consisted mainly of M1, M2 and M3 machine guns; heavy weapons were not provided.

    • By late 1963, inter-service rivalry led to severe criticism by the Indian Army. To prove the worth of the SFF, the Inspector General sent 120 men for a field exercise with the Indian Army, codenamed Garuda. The exercise proved to be a dramatic success for the SFF and the Army was now less inclined to criticise the force.
    • In 1964, the SFF began its airborne training at Agra, and subsequently developed its own airborne training programme at Sarasawan airbase near Saharanpur.
    • By the late1960s, the SFF was organised into six battalions for administrative purposes. Each battalion, consisting of six companies, was commanded by a Tibetan who held rank equivalent to a Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4) in the Indian Army. A Tibetan Major (OF-3) or Captain (OF-2) commanded each company, which was the primary unit used in operations. Females also participated in the SFF, being assigned to signal and medical companies. During this time, the SFF was never used against its intended opponents, the Chinese. However, the unit did conduct limited cross-border reconnaissance operations, as well as highly classified raids to place sensors in the Himalayas to detect Chinese nuclear and missile tests.
    • In 1971, the SFF undertook combat operations in the Indo-Pakistan War; elements of the force were sent to Mizoram in late October. By November 1971, around 3000 SFF personnel were deployed next to the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) (Chowdhury, 2015). With cross-border attacks becoming more frequent, the SFF was then ordered to attack the Chittagong Hill Tracts. For this operation, codenamed ‘Eagle’, SFF personnel were given Bulgarian AK47s and US carbines. This operation saw the first Dapon, Tibetan equivalent of a Brigadier (OF-6), to command part of the SFF task force. With war, right around the corner, the SFF was given several mission plans, including the destruction of the Kaptai Dam and other bridges. The Inspector General urged that the SFF be used to capture Chittagong, but this was denied due to the SFF not having any artillery or airlift support. After three weeks of border fighting, the SFF divided its six battalions into three columns and moved into East Pakistan on 03 December 1971. After capturing several villages in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Tibetans were given mortars and recoilless rifles and two Indian Air Force Mi4 helicopters. The SFF blocked a potential escape route for East Pakistani forces into Burma, and halted members of Pakistan’s 97 Independent Brigade and 2 Commando Battalion in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. On 17 December 1971, Pakistan signed a ceasefire, with the SFF having suffered relatively few casualties: 56 killed and 190 wounded. For their bravery and courage in battle, 580 SFF members were awarded cash prizes by the Indian Government.
    • In 1973, the original Inspector General of the SFF was replaced.
    • In 1975, a new rule pertaining to the SFF was issued because of several incidents in which SFF Commandos had crossed the border and conducted unsanctioned cross-border operations. This rule prohibited the SFF from being deployed within 10 km of the Indo-Chinese border.
      By the late 1970s, Indo-Chinese relations had eased somewhat and the Indian Government was actively considering the future of the SFF. With this uncertainty, the SFF quickly developed a new role: counterterrorism (CT). Since the SFF consisted largely of Tibetans they were viewed as an ideal CT force because they were not directly related to India’s communal politics. Thus, in 1977, the Director General for Security dispatched 500 SFF commandos to Sarasawa for possible action against rioters during national elections. With the elections passing without any major incidents, only 60 SFF commandos were retained for CT duties. However, over 500 Army troops were sent to Sarasawa for CT training forming a new elite detachment known as the Special Group, under the command of the SFF Inspector General (surprisingly, all Tibetans were removed from the Special Group and returned to Chakrata). Among the Tibetan members of the SFF, three commando battalions were raised for deployment around India; one of these battalions is normally stationed on the Siachen Glacier with other Indian troops. The remaining SFF personnel were still trained for guerrilla operations along the Indo-China border.
    • By early 1984, the SFF’s elite Special Group became the primary CT force in India. They participated in the assault on Golden Temple, but the mission was to prove faulty, due to a lack of intelligence on the militants’ whereabouts in the temple locality. The SFF was also used for VIP security in late 1984, around the Prime Minister, following the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
    • In 1985, SFF personnel given rank parity with the Indian Army personnel (Singh, 2016).
    • In 1985, the SFF played a pivotal role in Operation Meghdoot (the Siachen battle of 1985/86) and since then one of its units has been constantly guarding the Siachen Glacier, a place considered one of the world’s most inhospitable battle zones.
    • In 1989, the SFF began wearing the standard Indian DPM (disruptive pattern material) camouflage uniform.
    • In 2009, SFF personnel given parity with Indian Army personnel in pay, allowances and pension (prospectively) (Singh, 2016).
    1.2 General Duties of Special Operations Forces
    SOF personnel are required to infiltrate and exfiltrate to and from operational areas dismounted, carrying heavy loads and manipulating personal and support weapons systems and other heavy equipment. SOF personnel perform insertions and assaults on targets by:

    • Parachuting onto ground or into water;
    • Climbing ladders and cliffs;
    • Rappelling;
    • Conducting close-quarters battle (CQB); and
    • Battle drills in varying types of terrain and climatic conditions day or night.
    SOF personnel are also required to board ocean vessels while they are underway from another floating or airborne platform in all sea states day or night, and where speed and stealth are imperative. These duties are performed while wearing heavy rucksack and body armour. SOF personnel perform individual CQB and detainee handling which may require the individual to:

    • Combat and detain another person using blocking strikes;
    • Disarming;
    • Lifting;
    • Pulling;
    • Ground fighting;
    • Grappling; and
    • Moving a non-compliant person.
    There is no tolerance for a lapse in attention when conducting CQB and other assaults while wearing night vision goggles as well as Special Operations Insertion and Extraction (SOIE) techniques. Accurate discrimination of non-combatants and precision engagement of enemy combatants requires extreme concentration.

    Similarly, high-risk roped and un-roped insertions with no redundant safety systems require constant attention. SOF personnel require the ability for continuous analysis of the situation, environment, mission aims and unique foreign societal complexities during operations.

    1.3 Role and Purpose of SFF
    The core mission of the SFF is to conduct covert and guerrilla operations on the Chinese side of the Indo-Chinese border during conflict (Bedi, 2015).

    However, the SFF has developed and expanded into other mission profiles, including:

    • Counter-terrorism (CT) operations;
    • “…the SFF is also trained for anti-hijack operations.” (Katoch, 2011, p.36-37); and
    • “The army special forces and the SG of the SFF would both be employed trans-border in a conventional conflict, especially with both having airborne capability…” (Katoch, 2011, p.37).
    “The SFF better known by its nom du guerre Establishment 22 is operationally employed by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for clandestine and sensitive missions.” (Bedi, 2015).

    “India did create a true Special Forces set up which was intelligence led in the Special Frontier Force, which was originally created for operations in Tibet, but it has now become obsolete and it is not clear what the mission of the force currently is.” (Joshi, 2016).

    2.0 Hierarchy of Indian SFF
    This section provides an outline of the civilian and military personalities and organisations that have some form of control, impact, direction over the Indian SFF.

    2.1 Cabinet Secretariat
    The role of the Cabinet Secretariat is to provide secretarial assistance to the cabinet and its various committees. It functions under the leadership of:

    • The Prime Minister: who is its minister-in-charge at the political level; and
    • The Cabinet Secretary: who is its administrative head, drawn from the senior most officers of the Indian Administrative Service.
    Besides the Cabinet Secretary, there are three other Secretaries in the Cabinet Secretariat (Arora & Goyal, 2005):

    • Secretary (Security), normally an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer;
    • Secretary (Coordination), normally an IPS officer; and
    • Secretary (Research and Analysis Wing) (R&AW), responsible for the collation of external intelligence related to the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Cabinet.
    “The Special Frontier Force (SFF) is an adjunct of the Cabinet Secretariat…” and is led by the Secretary (R&AW) (Sinha & Balakrishnan, 2016, p.4).

    2.2 Secretary (R&AW)
    The Secretary (R&AW) is responsible for the collation of external intelligence. However, the post-holder also performs some specialised functions, which include (Arora & Goyal, 2005; Sarkar, 2010; Sinha & Balakrishnan, 2016):

    • Director General (Security);
    • Head of Special Frontier Force (SFF); and
    • Head of the Aviation Research Centre (ARC).
    Laximanth, (2011) acknowledges two of the positions but does not mention if they are led by the same post-holder.

    The Secretary (R&AW) is assisted in these functions by several key personalities, including (Arora & Goyal, 2005):

    • Special Secretary (R&AW);
    • Joint Secretary (R&AW);
    • Director (SSB);
    • Director (ARC); and
    • Inspector General (SFF).
    2.3 Inspector General (SFF)
    Operationally, the SFF is led by the Inspector General SFF, broadly equivalent to a Major General (OF-7) (Arora & Goyal, 2005; Sinha & Balakrishnan, 2016).

    3.0 Organisation of SFF
    [​IMG]As well as the traditional leadership and staff officer roles identified above, the SFF contain personnel in enabler, supporter and other roles (e.g. administrative and logistical).

    Although originally established with a strength 12,000 personnel, this quickly swelled to 20,000 by 1970 but was subsequently reduced to 10,000 (Sanyal, 2009).

    “Modeled on the Kennedy-era Green Berets, the unit is rumored to contain about ten thousand soldiers…”(Rehman, 2017).

    The unit is “Commanded by IA [Indian Army] officers on special assignment…” (Rehman, 2017, p.123) and is composed of Tibetans, “…Gurkhas [from 1965] and hill tribesmen who have swollen the SFF’s ranks over the years.” (Rehman, 2017, p.124). Other personnel include Para (SF) personnel who “…are seconded to SFF units frequently.” (Rehman, 2017, p.124).

    Each Battalion is composed of six companies, with each company consisting of approximately 123 personnel. There is also a force of around 700 Gurkhas/Gorkhas in the SFF at any given time.

    3.1 Special Group
    “Furthermore are 1,200-1,500 SF from two shadowy Special Group (SG) battalions of the Special Frontier Force (SFF), raised after India’s disastrous 1962 border war with China, and headquartered at Chakrata, near Dehra Dun. The SFF and its SG served as models for the NSG SAG combine.” (Bedi, 2015).

    Established in 1977, or 1981 (Shivam, 2016), Special Group is an ‘elite’ SOF unit within the SFF. The Special Group is also known as the 4th Vikas Battalion/Regiment and reputedly known as 22 SF or The Mavericks (Shivam, 2016).

    4th Vikas, more commonly known as The Special Group (SG), is R&AWs ultra-secret military unit for clandestine intelligence missions. The unit is considered the equivalent of CIAs Special Activities Division.

    Reportedly, the 4th Battalion of the Vikas Regiment was converted for special missions, with three squadrons (SF equivalent of an Infantry company); with two of these squadrons subsequently forming the National Security Guard (NSG) [LINK] (needs verification).

    “…the Special Groups (SGs) of the Special Frontier Force (SFF) operating directly under the Cabinet Secretariat.” (Katoch, 2011, p.36).

    One commentator (Shivam, 2016) suggests that Special Group was created by a Colonel (OF-5) from 10 Para (SF), “The Desert Scorpions”, under Project Sunray. However, unlike other SFF battalions who have Tibetans, Special Group consists of approximately 250 Indians. In 1983, six officers of Special Group went to a secret base of Sayeret Matkal, possibly Tel Aviv (Shivam, 2016).

    There are suggestions that Special Group is essentially a standalone unit within the SFF which is manned by personnel on deputation from Indian Special Forces units (e.g. Para (SF) and MARCOS).

    4.0 Selection and Training
    “Commandant Dinesh Tewari, 68, a former Gurkha regiment captain who put thousands of SFF soldiers through a gruelling 44-week commando course during 1969-75…” (Sanyal, 2009).

    It has been suggested that SFF training is conducted at Chakrata, lasts six months and is like India Army training, with additional instruction in guerrilla tactics and rock-climbing.

    All SFF commandos are parachute qualified after five jumps, with three ‘refresher’ jumps every year; US parachute instructors apparently remained until 1966.

    SFF commandos wear the formation insignia on the shoulder with an Indian Army parachute wing being worn on the right breast. An airborne maroon beret is worn with a distinctive SFF beret badge and an SFF tab in worn on both shoulders.

    4.1 Pre-Selection
    No information available.

    4.2 Selection
    No information available.

    4.3 Basic SFF Training
    No information available.

    4.4 Advanced SFF Training
    No information available.

    5.0 Training Establishments
    No information available.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  9. abingdonboy

    abingdonboy Senior Member Senior Member

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    In general MARCOs' equipment levels are very very disappointing, doesn't seem to have been much improvement for almost 7 years now and when compared to others they are about on the level of a lower tier NATO navy's VBSS teams.
     
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  10. COLDHEARTED AVIATOR

    COLDHEARTED AVIATOR Regular Member

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    Bro,remember many years ago we used to have long chats about SF and modernization?We both had agreed upon that by 2020 our SFs would have decent equipment and weapons as compared to top SF units.

    I think we are waaay off till 2018 atleast.

    I really hope someone pulls up their socks.
     
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  11. abingdonboy

    abingdonboy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Remember that all too well bro! That had been assuming that year on year new equipment was going to be adopted on a continuous basis but it seems as though the 3 SFs have barely improved in the last 5 years after going through quite significant updates from late '00s to early '10s.

    Right now it seems as though the only major special unit that is making serious improvements year on year is the NSG, everyone else seems to have stagnated.

    MARCOs had floated a RFI for FCS back in 2010 (if not a bit earlier) that should've been implemented by now but clearly nothing came of that, simiarly PARA (SF) and Garuds float very promising RFIs every year but little progress ever seems to be made.

    2020 seems too soon to see this become a reality right now sadly bro, seems SFs remain the "ugly child" of the "big military" (strangely IN seems to have the least regard for their SFs these days).

    The sad part is upgrading these small units would be almost insignificant in terms of the cost compared to the overall budget. For the cost of 2 or 3 Rafales or 4 or 5 Apaches you could get all 3 SFs to NATO standard within 12 months.


    The SOCOM/SOD seems to finally be on the agenda (maybe by 2020) and that surely has to be one of the best hopes Indian SFs have to really take the next step up to be on par with world class SFs in terms of equipment which they fully deserve to be. Under the current setup it is clearly impossible to push through what these elite units need with the purse strings being controlled by "conventional" officers. A standalone SF command lead by an actual SF officer will surely expediate the process massively.
     
  12. COLDHEARTED AVIATOR

    COLDHEARTED AVIATOR Regular Member

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    I think they have got even their priorities wrong with respect to what needs to be inducted.

    I have less hope from them seeing the way things are going even with the basic thing such as camo,uniform,boots etc forget about something hi tech.

    Para SF has got itself a bulky helmet even when their job is of a airborne nature mostly at a time most SFs are opting for light weighing FAST helmet.

    LMGs dont have scope,poor cheap quality headsets,basic radio sets,no tactical gloves,no tactical eyes wear,no standard tactical knife(khukri is a joke for special ops),no standard boots,no water resistant clothes,....the list will go on and on.

    I dont expect the things i mentioned to improve even by 2025 knowing how things go in the Army atleast.
     
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  13. Vinod DX9

    Vinod DX9 Regular Member

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    In Quora, there was mention about a declassified incident of Para in Afghanistan, where one group went antisocial and other group ultimately took them down. It was written by an ex army officer, and he used words something like as this incident is declassified so he can reveal etc....Can anyone please find out that, I lost that link.
     
  14. Brahmaputra Mail 2

    Brahmaputra Mail 2 Regular Member

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    Unit Beret. Example: Late Col. Mahadik from 21 Para SF who was deputed to RR as CO of 41RR
     
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  15. Brahmaputra Mail 2

    Brahmaputra Mail 2 Regular Member

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    Noise discipline is better with a crossbow compared to a silenced pistol.
     
  16. Chinmoy

    Chinmoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    SPECIAL FORCES: INDIA
    SURGICAL STRIKES

    Coming soon in History TV............... :india::india::india:
     
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  17. ALBY

    ALBY Elite Member Elite Member

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    Check it ..Crossbows are not that silent,Plus they are bulkier than a Micro Uzi.If Crossbows were that superior then all the SF would have adopted it.
    Not presenting this for an argument sake but that's what I deducted after watching the video.
     
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  18. COLDHEARTED AVIATOR

    COLDHEARTED AVIATOR Regular Member

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    Ya the video looks excellent.Cant find it on the internet.
     
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  19. Bornubus

    Bornubus Dogra Rule 1846-1949 Senior Member

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    =====================================================
     
  20. Nanjesh Patel

    Nanjesh Patel Regular Member

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    MARCOS.
    The only easy day was yesterday.

    [​IMG]
     

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