On Tuesday, Indian Defence ministry sources said several contracts worth “hundreds of crores” have been inked in recent months to equip the elite special forces of Army, Indian Air Force (IAF) and Navy with more highly-specialised weaponry and equipment from countries like Finland, Sweden, Italy, Russia, Israel and Germany.
“More attention is being paid to the Special Forces after Para-SF commandos conducted the cross-border surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in September 2016,” a source said.
For the Army’s existing nine Para-SF battalions, Contracts for new Finnish Sako sniper rifles, Swedish Carl Gustaf Mark-4 light weight rocket-launchers, Italian Beretta pistols with silencers have been inked.
Almost 1,000 marine commandos or “Marcos” of the Navy are inducting Russian VSS suppressed sniper rifles, air-droppable rubberised inflatable boats, remotely-operated underwater vehicles for explosive disposal, combat free-fall parachutes, hands-free power ascenders and opposed boarding equipment.
Under a Rs 2,017 crore project, they will also receive two “midget submarines” or “chariots”. “They have already inducted 65 micro-UAVs under a Rs 27 crore contract,” said an official.
However, SOC remains missing in action. The Naresh Chandra Taskforce in May 2012 and other committees strongly recommended the SOC to bring together disparate special forces under a unified command and control structure to execute strategic operations in tune with national security objectives.
“Leave alone the long-term reform of having tri-Service theatre commands (with assets and manpower of Army, Navy and IAF under one operational commander in a region) even the truncated agencies for space, cyberspace and special operations are stuck,” said an official.