The Garud Commando Force is the elite unit of the Indian Air Force which was raised to provide quick response to terror-threats to airfields, combat search and rescue, reconnaissance and counter-insurgency operations. Since its inception, it has been hailed for its role in many counter terrorist operations. The Indian Air Force has recently decided to raise the number of Garud Squadrons as well.
Here is a list of 12 facts about the Garud Commando Force:-
1. Established in February 2004, The Garud Commando Force has a current strength of around 1100 personnel.
After the terrorists attempted to attack two major airbases in Jammu & Kashmir in 2001, the Indian Air Force felt the need to raise a specialized force on the lines of Para SF of the army and the MARCOS of the Navy to counter terrorist operations. The group was initially known as ‘Tiger Force’ but was later renamed as the ‘Garud Force’.
2. It is the youngest among all the Special Forces of India.
3. The unit derives its name from Garuda, a divine bird-like creature of Hindu mythology.
Garuda was known to be the vehicle mount (vahana) of God Vishnu.
4. They are directly recruited, unlike other special forces where only the serving personnel are allowed to volunteer.
The recruitment is done through advertisements and anyone who meets the physical standards can apply for the job. The candidates have to go through a series of tests which determines if they are fit to be a Garud Commando. They get only a single chance to make it to the training. A very few candidates who have the potential are selected for the training.
5. Garud personnel are enlisted as Airmen within the Indian Air Force rank structure.
Once the trainee joins the Indian Air Force, he remains the part of Garud Unit throughout his career. It is done so that the IAF gets to retain its highly trained workforce for a longer duration of time.
6. Garud trainees undergo a rigorous training of 72 weeks long making it the longest training among all the Indian Special Forces.
The initial phase of training is three months long which filters out potential trainees from the rest. Afterward, the trainees are moved to the Garud Regimental Training Centre located at Hindon, Ghaziabad. This phase usually has a high attrition rate and only the best of the best are able to survive here. It takes around three years to become a fully trained Garud Commando.
7. The trainees then move to the Parachute Training School at Agra to complete the basic airborne phase.
8. In the last phase of training, Garuds go to the Army’s Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) situated in Mizoram.
After completing the training, they are deployed with the Para SF of the Indian Army to gain first-hand operational experience.
9. The force is equipped with the most lethal and advanced weapons such as Glock pistols, Negev Machine gun, Tavor assault rifles and Galil sniper rifles.
10. They have also been deployed in Congo as part of UN Peace Keeping Mission.
11. Garud Commandos wear the ‘Airman Beret Badge’ on the cap and sport a ‘Para Badge’ on their chest just like the Para SF and the MARCOS.
12. The Garuds have actively participated in counter-terrorist operations and have received many accolades which include 1 Ashok Chakra, 4 Shaurya Chakras, and many Vayu Sena Medal.
In 2018, Garud Commando Jyoti Prakash Nirala was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously for his actions in Jammu & Kashmir where he had single-handedly killed six terrorists by his gun.