The Indian Army’s special forces will get more troops, more money, and their own command, under a proposal expected to be approved soon by the Defense Ministry.
Under the new command — the Army’s seventh — the Special Forces are expected to grow from 5,000 troops to 20,000, with the extra soldiers being recruited from elsewhere in the 1.1-million-troop Army, an Army official said.
The new command will get money to buy the latest weapons and gear, said an MoD official, who said about $3 billion will be needed in the next five to seven years for that purpose. The Army has already sent the MoD a wish list that includes light combat vehicles, all-terrain utility vehicles, small laser-guided weapons, sniper rifles, Global Positioning System gear, digital cameras and remote detonating devices, he said.
The concept paper for creation of a Special Forces Command — which awaits the approval of the Defence Ministry — was drafted by Army Training Command in Shimla, the Army official said. Service and MoD sources say approval is expected and the command should be operational by early next year.
This is in line with the service’s two-month-old doctrine of increasing the military’s lethality and range, a second Indian ministry official said.
The new doctrine suggested focusing more on special forces, which can carry out operations swiftly over longer distances, under the assumption that future conflicts likely will erupt suddenly, be short in duration and fought at a high tempo and intensity.
Such conflict will require coordination between the land, naval and air forces, along with increased reliance on satellite communications, the second ministry official said.
Another 5,000 special forces troops are being trained at an undisclosed location, the Army official said. In the past, special forces have trained alongside American troops during exercises in Leh and Mizoram, he said.
Mahindra Choudhary, a defense analyst and retired Army major general, said the service is moving away from large purchases for conventional troops to free up procurement funds to equip more specialized forces. He said this shift, also in keeping with the new doctrine, is because India expects future battles to be swift and behind enemy lines.