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Indian Army raising ninth Special Forces battalion

The government issued the order for raising the battalion in the last quarter of 2013. All Para and Para SF battalions have been asked to provide units that can constitute the ‘nucleus’ of the battalion of 600 special force members by April this year.

The rest of the personnel will be provided through a process of a ‘volunteer’ exercise, by which the individual soldiers choose by volunteering to become members of the prestigious SF battalion.

The immediately previous, eleventh SF battalion was also raised recently and after its mandatory training period has been posted in the north-east India.

The SF battalions have an ever expanding role in both counter-insurgency operations and anti-terrorist operations. According to army experts like retired lieutenant general, Prakash Katoch and retired brigadier, Gurmeet Kanwal, the country needs 12 SF battalions.

Currently, 2 Paras along with 10 Paras are with Southern Command, 9 and 4 are with Northern Command, historic 1 Para with Western Command, 3 with South Western Command, and 11 and 21 battalions are with Eastern Command.

According to the experts, six para SFs should always be in operational readiness, while another six will remain for rotation.

The SFs typically function behind enemy lines causing disruptions in their fighting and logistics operations. They can also be used in anti-terrorist operations, driven by ‘actionable’ intelligence. This can translate into specialised tasks like hunting down top terrorist leaders, busting nuclear warhead storages and attacking missile launch sites.

Katoch explains the joint special forces command that has been planned recently and waiting for the government’s green signal, will require separate senior personnel forming a group that will advise the prime minister of the country on tasking and deployment of these forces.
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