Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 14
India’s elite unit of commandos drawn from all three armed forces has started functioning with the Ministry of Defence today appointing a Major General from the Army as its first commander. He will be in the rank of General Officer Commanding (GOC), a rank used in field formations.
Named the Armed Forces Special Operations Division (AFSOD), it will have special forces of the Army, Marine Commandos (MARCOS) of the Navy, and Garuda commando force of the IAF. The three forces have operated together but this will be first effort to bring them under a common command and control structure, an important step in integration of the three forces. It will also reduce costs of training besides logistics and administrative costs.
The government had approved in December last year the setting up of this division and also the creation of a Defence Cyber Agency (DCA) to be headed by a Navy officer of equivalent rank — a Rear Admiral. On May 1, Rear Admiral Mohit Gupta was appointed the first head of the DCA. Also, separately, work is on to set up a space agency to be headed by an IAF officer for space-based missions. All three are to be tri-services divisions.
The Armed Forces Special Operations Division will start functioning with a small team of commandos. This division will have around 3,000 trained commandoes to carry out warfare in jungles, at sea and attack or rescue helicopter operations.
The teams will be responsible for conducting missions that include targeting strategic installations, high-value targets in terms of terrorists and crippling the war-fighting capabilities of the enemy.
These three units will function under the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS).
The Naresh Chandra Committee in 2012 had recommended setting up three commands — Special Operations, Cyber and Space — to deal with new challenges facing national security.
The committee was asked by the government to give recommendations on fine-tuning higher defence management to enable the armed forces to fight in a fast-changing warfare scenario.