An enigmatic new insignia popped up on a soldier’s uniform a few years ago which sent defence enthusiasts and experts alike into a tizzy. The insignia, worn above the service patches, above the left pocket, belongs to servicemen of the SG — Special Group. Tenanted mostly by men from the Para (SF) battalions of the Indian Army there are also Tibetans and a few Marine Commandos to be found within their ranks.
FORMATION / ESTABLISHMENT
Raised somewhere in 1976-77-78 as an anti-Hijacking force , a time when hijacking and sabotaging was at peak. Earlier the anti-hijacking and associated duties were performed by the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (SPECIAL FORCES) in short 1 PARA SF which is stationed at Special Forces Training School , Nahan , Himachal Pradesh.
Later SG was relieved by its duties by the National Security Guards (NSG) which was raised in 1984 as an anti-hijacking force because the location of the home base of SG (Sarsawa , Uttar Pradesh) was far from the major International Airport like Delhi , Mumbai and Amritsar.
One interesting fact that i would like to add here is that there are a lot of other informal names or nick names given to Special Group. But not many know that there was a motive or a clever intention behind it. For instance , the Special Group in the army fraternity is known as 4 VIKAS (VIKAS battalions comes under the Establishment 22 and consists of Tibetan Jawans who were recruited to wage a proxy or a guerilla war against China after the humiliating defeat of 1962)
There are 7 VIKAS Battalions including 4th VIKAS battalion which is the Special Group. The Army cleverly named the new force , 4 VIKAS just to confuse our peaceful neighbors and sandwhiched the Anti hijacking force between the normal VIKAS Units.
FIRST OFFICERS OF THE GROUP
The force was established by an officer from 9 PARA SF , Major General VK Sharma and the new unit got its first Commanding Officer (CO) also from the same PARA SF unit , Colonel Bali
MORE ABOUT MAJ GEN VK SHARMA
He was commissioned into 9 PARA (SF) on 24 December 1972. He commanded –
• 4 VIKAS (Special Group)
• 268 Infantry Brigade
• GOC 12 RAPID
• Commandant Parachute Traning Regimental Centre
• Inspector General , NSG Training Centre
An officer of outstanding ability , he was one of the only two officers who are US Ranger Qualified. And the man behind the establishment of the covert unit , Special Group
He served in Iraq and Iran for one year respectively during the Iraq war.
He has studied from –
• National Defence Academy
• Defence Services Staff College , Wellington
• National Defence College (Australia & New Zealand)
He also was also head Trg NSG during the 26/11 Attacks
In the initial years , officers and jawans from 1 , 9 & 10 PARA SF were sent to deputation into this unit but after 3 years , a shortage was felt in the PARA SF units and soon the CO’s of these Special Forces rejected all the deputation proposals for Special Group
To solve the problem , Special Group started taking in officers from PARA Airborne units and jawans from the normal units of the different branches of the army (eg – Army Service Corps , Corps Of Signals)
Till date , only officers from Parachute Regiment (Special Forces) have commanded the unit and the tenure in the unit for officers is 2 years and 3 years for jawans
The Commanding Officer (CO) of the Units recommends the names of the officers and jawans. Initial selection is done at the parent unit itself through tests which includes Physical Tests and Intelligence Gathering followed by advance training and Parachute jumps at their home and training base in (Sarsawa , Uttar Pradesh). Para jumps are mandatory for Special Group. Jawans from regular units have to be para qualified , for this the special group has its own Parachute Training School (PTS) at their home base
50% of the Unit composes of officers and jawans from the Parachute Regiment and the other half from regular units of the Army.
To maintain its secrecy and to keep it out of the lengthy procurement procedures of the Ministry Of Defence , the Special Group was placed under the Cabinet Secretary (Security) who is answerable to the Home Ministry
The force is headed by a Lt. Gen officer called the Director General Security (DG.S) , under whom there is a Major General rank officer who is called Inspector General Special Frontier Force who commands Establishment 22 and in the grass root level the Commanding Officer , a Colonel rank officer is the in-charge of Special Group.
(The posts written in white indicate that they are civil post followed by green which are occupied by Ranks of the army establishment)
(This graphic descirbes the exact structure of Special Frontier Force , which is divided into 3 parts – Vikas Battalions which consists of Tibetan refugees as jawans who are commanded by Indian Officers , Special Group which has jawans as well as officer of Indian ethnicity and at last , the Archer battalion which has Gurkha troops with Indian Officers)
As such no particular weapon is used by Special Group , but they have one of the largest weapons inventory in the army (25 kinds of wepaons), having weapons for specific types of missions , mainly for close quarter combat.
All weapons , ammunition, equipments are bought from the black market with no markings on them to maintain the secrecy of the unit.
Some weapons that were spotted with SG are FN P90 , AKM , IWI Jericho 941 , IWI Negev LMG , IWI Tavor-21 and wall penetrating radar
(Jericho 941 pistol in the hands of an SG personnel)
(SG operator with AK Rifle)
(SG operator with Tavor 21)
(One of the rarest pictures of Special Group personnel with FN P-90 and Hand Held Wall penetrating radar , thus making the Special Group the thrid unit to have FN P-90 after Special Protection Group and Vikas Battalions of SFF)
(SG personnel with IWI Negev LMG)
HOW IS SPECIAL GROUP DIFFERENT FROM PARACHUTE REGIMENT (SPECIAL FORCES) ? AND WHICH ONE IS BETTER ?
This question might have cropped up in your mind , whether the Special Group is the elitist of the elite force or Can the men from the Special Group perform some miracle which the PARA SF men can’t ?
Well the question’s answer was difficult to answer but after talking to many Special Forces officers (serving and retired) and a few Special Group officers I have come to a conclusion with a brief explanation which will convince you for sure.
First we will talk about the difference between the two units , the only point which differentiates the two is the DUTY they perform , Special Group was created for Anti Hijacking Missions whereas PARA SF are there for a plethora of duties like Counter Terror Ops , Cross Border Raids , Intelligence were a few to name.
And adding more to it , Special Group works more in a surreptitious manner because of the DENIAL factor , that is when the government does not want to show the involvement of army but still wants the army to intervene , mainly in sensitive matters like the Operation Bluestar (Amritsar , Punjab) where people couldn’t even recognise the men from the Special Group and believed them to be regular police constables
Though PARA SF also maintains secrecy of the highest order but still operates in some areas in broad day light and doesn’t have to be concerned with the DENIAL factor of the government
And now to the ultimate question as to which one is better ?
Firstly you need to know that PARA SF is VERSATILE and Special Group is SOF (Special Operations Force)
Well now its important to tell you the meaning of these two words from the perspective of the Special Forces World.
VERSATILE – A force which is versatile is said to be trained in different terrains (Jungle , Mountain , Urban , Desert , Amphibious etc) and can carry out different types of missions and can be launched from different modes (Land , Sea , Air). In this case PARA SF has different battalions trained for different purposes like –
1 PARA SF – Tactical Needs
2 PARA SF – Mountain Warfare and CI/CT ops
3 PARA SF – Desert Warfare
4 PARA SF – Mountain Warfare and CI/CT Ops
9 PARA SF – Mountain Warfare and CI/CT Ops
10 PARA SF – Desert Warfare
11 PARA SF – Jungle Warfare (for North East)
12 PARA SF – Jungle Warfare (for North East)
21 PARA SF – Jungle Warfare and CI/CT Ops
Apart from CI/CT ops , PARA SF officers also undergo deep sea and combat diving course at Diving School , Kochi , Kerala and PARA SF also provide close security to a few dignitaries
(PARA SF is not just trained in land warfare , but also in amphibious raids and deep sea combat diving which is taught to them at Navy’s Diving School , Kochi)
(From working in broad day light to secret and covert operations, Para SF operates in all the specturms , in the picture above we can clearly see PARA SF jawans in the local Kashmiri attire as to blend in the local population)
Perfect Example of VERSATILE unit are the Green Berets of the USA
SOF (SPECIAL OPERATION FORCE) – A force which is trained in only one particular task and specialises in that task is called an SOF Unit. In this case Special Group has handful tasks to perform and they are –
Anti Hijacking (Primary Task)
Perfect example of SOF are the US Navy Seals
1. The things which Special Group carries out can also be carried by the PARA SF , but the same way around is not possible.
2. Officers from the PARA SF established Special Group , so cant be better than the men who established it
3. PARA SF’ s area of operation is large and more hostile (Eg – The route to their destination is also hostile) unlike Special Group where the area of operations is small and is less hostile (Eg – In case of a plane hijacking , the area of hostile is only in and around the plane and the route is also not full of dangers)
I have given all the facts and statistics to you now its you who has to judge wisely , as who is better and hope you enjoyed reading it.
Please copy with due credits to Indian Defence Research Advancements – INDRA Networks