The principal tasks of the Indian Army’s Para Commando special forces unit during hostilities include direct action, hostage rescue, counterterrorism, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defence, personnel recovery, asymmetric warfare, and counterproliferation. The Para Commandos, which were established in 1966, make up the bulk and core of the Indian Special Forces. They are a member of the Indian Army’s highly trained Parachute Regiment, which is typically where all Para-Commando personnel are chosen. They are the decisive force and aid in the main army’s damage-free entry into the enemy lines.
A parachute regiment’s primary objective is to quickly deploy soldiers behind enemy lines so they can attack them from behind and take out their first line of defence. The elite volunteer unit of the Indian Army is known as the Parachute Regiment, which consists of the PARA (SF) and PARA (SF) Airborne battalions. The regiment must be maintained at the highest degree of operational effectiveness and physical fitness due to its specific function. In order to successfully complete the prescribed operational tasks, this specifically chosen manpower must be relatively young, physically and intellectually fit, clever, inventive, and highly motivated.
The Indian Army’s parachute troops are among of the oldest airborne formations in existence. The first such unit was approved on May 15, 1941, and the 50th Indian Parachute Brigade, which included the 151st British Parachute Battalion, 152nd Indian Parachute Battalion, and 153rd Gurkha Parachute Battalion, was established on October 27, 1941.  During the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War, Major Megh Singh of the Brigade of the Guards established the Meghdoot Force, an ad hoc commando squad made up of volunteers from various infantry divisions.
As a result of the unit’s successful combat performance, the government officially raised a commando unit. The battalion, which was originally meant to be a part of the Brigade of the Guards, was raised by Lt Col Megh Singh. However, the unit was moved to the Parachute Regiment and established as its 9th Battalion (Commando) on 1 July 1966 as it was realised that parachute proficiency was a crucial component of special operations.
The new unit’s core was made up of former Meghdoot Force personnel, and its centre of operations was Gwalior. The unit was divided evenly into two in June 1967 to create a second commando force, known as the 10th Battalion, with three Companies in each. The instructions were that the 10th Battalion was to work in the western desert and the 9th Battalion in the northern highlands. These battalions were renamed as battalions 9 and 10 Para (Commando) in 1969.
The 1 Para was experimentally transformed into the Indian Army’s first special forces unit in 1978 and preserved as a tactical reserve. The unit was previously known as 1 Punjab but later changed its name to 1 PARA (PUNJAB). It has already received the Chief of Army Staff Unit Citation twice and the GOC-in-C Eastern Command Unit Citation once. In 1978, it was converted to 1 PARA (SF). The structure is more than 200 years old.
Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 in military history
The 1971 Indo-Pak War saw the introduction of Para Commandos, who distinguished themselves valiantly in battle. A brave raid on a Pakistani gun position at Mandhol gave the 9 Para Cdo its first taste of action. Six 122mm cannons from the 172 Independent Battery of the Pakistani Army were destroyed in this attack. Along with losing weapons, ammo, and other essential supplies, Pakistanis also suffered 37 fatalities, 41 injuries, and severe face damage.
The 9 Para Cdo was awarded the Battle Honour of Mandhol for their timely raid, which allowed the 25th Infantry Division to advance its attacks on the Pakistani-occupied position of Daruchian. India’s first airborne assault operation was conducted out in Bangla Desh by the 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade’s 2 PARA BATTALION Group to seize Poongli Bridge in the Mymensingh District near Dacca. They were the first troop to arrive in Dacca as a result. 2 PARA received the Battle Honour of Poongli Bridge and the Theater Honour of Dacca for their actions.
1984’s Operation Bluestar
The Para Commandos took part in Operation Blue Star in 1984. They were accused of driving Sikh extremists out of Punjab’s Golden Temple. 80 members of 1 Para Cdo were tasked with attacking two different parts of the temple, one of which required divers. However, there were a number of obstacles that led to the mission’s failure, including lack of high-precision CQB (close quarter combat) abilities, operating in low light, conventional raid tactics, and inadequate intelligence on the size of the militants that Gen. Shabeg Singh himself had trained.
After the initial squad became stuck, the diver operation was abandoned. Tanks were used to complete the mission because the commandos were unable to accomplish their goals. The Anti-Terror National Security Guards were created as a direct result of this action and are trained specifically for close-quarters urban fighting.
1987 Sri Lanka
The Para Commandos participated in Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s. The initial heli-borne attack on Jaffna University on October 11, 1987, was a catastrophic failure due to poor preparation by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) and a lack of information on the LTTE’s whereabouts.
Six soldiers perished during that disastrous mission, but unlike the Sikh Light Infantry who sacrificed themselves bravely fighting to the end, the Para commandos, who had received more training, took cover under a house after being led astray by a young man who offered to help the commandos track Prabhakaran by leading them on a fruitless search. After the reinforcements arrived the following morning, they fought the enemy for a whole 24 hours, picking up all of their dead with their weapons. Following the unsuccessful attack on Jaffna City, the 10 Para Cdo took part in a heli-borne assault in the 14-mile-away town of Moolai in November 1987. An arms depot was taken control of, and 25 LTTE rebels were slain. Early in 1988, 1 Para Cdo was rotated home and replaced by 9 Para Cdo in order to provide the commandos combat experience.
The tour of duty for this battalion was supposed to finish in June 1988, but it was prolonged because of a planned airstrike into the Mullaittivu area’s coastal marshes. The expedition was a huge success because it discovered a number of weapons stockpiles. Additionally, 12 personnel were provided by the 9 Para Cdo for the protection of the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka.
Sierra Leone’s Operation Khukri 2000
The 18th Grenadiers carried out Operation Khukri, a rescue operation, in Sierra Leone in June 2000. The Indian Army’s 5/8GR, 18 Grenadiers, Team 2 PARA(SF), Indian Composite Artillery Regiment (LFG & 120mm Mortars), and two engineer companies from the 116 Bengal Sappers and 7 Engineer, Madras Sappers regiments all participated in the operation’s start. The IAF provided three Mi35 Hinds, four Mi-8s, and two Chetaks (aloutttes). The raid was successful and all 223 captives were safely rescued by Indian forces who were a member of a global UN peacekeeping team. Major, who is in charge of over 120 operators (now Lt. Col.)
To lead the effort to free 223 members of the 5/8 Gorkha Rifles who had been encircled and held hostage by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels for more than 75 days, Harinder Sood was airlifted from New Delhi.
- gathering of intelligence, special reconnaissance
- Deep penetration and precise attacks behind enemy lines to subvert and sabotage crucial adversary infrastructure and communications.
- As a part of its counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations, the Indian Army conducts both overt and covert special operations.
- rescue activities for hostages both inside and beyond Indian borders.