Garuds are the Special Forces unit of Indian Air Force responsible for Combat Search and Rescue , Counter Insurgency Operations , Counter Terrorism Operations and especially to provide a rapid response to any terrorist attack on Indian Air Force Bases. Established back in 2003 , the size of Garuds has swelled to some more than 1000 operatives. They are the youngest Indian Special Forces unit which gives an offensive capability to Indian Air Force to undertake behind the line operations as required just like Para SF and MARCOS.
Here are some interesting facts about Garuds which might surprise you and make you feel pride of our capabilities at the same time :
1- At first , Indian Air Force wanted to raise a unit comprised of 2000 commandos named as “Tiger Force” only to be later renamed as “Garud Commando Force”. It was raised to do same roles as Para SF and MARCOS and it was further tasked to provide security to IAF bases in general especially after two major attacks on IAF bases in J&K back in 2001.
2. Garuds are selected from civilians much unlike Para SF and MARCOS which are comprised of serving men. To be selected as a Garud , you have to go through intense physical and mental probation which tests your ‘Breaking Point’ . You get only one chance but once selected you become a part of the force. Either you get above the cut in first chance itself or you will be forever seated on a civilian bench.
3. Garud training is theoretically the longest for any Indian Special Force being some 72 weeks. The initial training of 12 weeks is done to make them hardened soldiers. Being fully qualified will take some 3 years.
4. Their training includes Close Quarter Battle Training , Hand-to-Hand combat , Urban Combat , Combat Free-Fall , Infiltration , Ambush measures , Weapon handling , Combat Diving and more. They are also sent to Commando School in Belgaum , High Altitude Warfare School in Sonmarg and Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Vairengte, Mizoram.
5. Garuds are also deployed to a variety of missions apart from Airbase security. They have been sent for UN Peacekeeping Missions in Congo. They have also been attached to RR units in Kashmir for CI/CT Operations. Garuds also act as helicopter gunners with IAF Mi-17 in Red Corridor assisting other units deployed there in anti-Naxalite operations. Garuds have also responded to the call during various natural calamities where they have given their best in rescuing stranded people.
6. Garuds are trained at Hindon Air Force Station which is largest Air Base in Asia and 8th largest in the world. It is home to several IAF squadrons like No.77 Squadron , No.81 Squadron and No.129 Helicopter Unit.
7. Garuds are equipped with a plethora of weapons and firearms which includes Tavor family of rifles , Negev Light Machine Guns , INSAS rifles , AK-47/AKM and their knockoffs , Galatz Sniper Rifle , OSV-96 as Anti-Materiel Rifle , and Glock Pistols as primary sidearm. Notable fact is that Garuds are the sole Indian unit to use CTAR-21 ( Compact Tavor ) Variant of Tavor family. They use variety of sights like Mepro Mor Red Dot Sights , EoTech Holographic Sights , Sightmark Reflex Sights , Nimrod 6×40 telescopic sights.
8. Garuds have been lauded for their role in variety of operations. During 2016 Pathankot Attack , Garuds were the first to response to the call. Garud Commando Gursewak Singh laid down his life during that operation. In J&K CI/CT Operations , Sergeant Milind Kishor & Corporal Nilesh Kumar Nayan lost their lives during an operation. In November , 2017 Garud Commando Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala single-handedly killed 6 terrorists using his Negev LMG. He was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest peacetime military decoration in January 2018.
9. Garuds have also done joint exercises with their Israeli counterpart Unit 669 during Exercise Blue Flag. Their roles of both match perfectly where they stressed on variety of operations such as CI/CT and CSAR. Combat search and rescue (CSAR) operations will be prime task for Garuds in case of any future conflict where they will be tasked to rescue downed Indian pilots in hostile territory.
10. Garuds sport an “Airman Beret Badge” and wear Para Wings on their right pocket just like Para SF and MARCOS do. They have a Garud Winged Badge which is golden in colour . They are usually spotted during Aero India shows in bonnets and sunglasses showing their cool attitude. No doubt they go by their motto : प्रहार से सुरक्षा ( Defence by Offence ).