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Why Indian Navy Commandos ‘MARCOS’ are considered as the best Special Force unit

One can not deny the fact that Indian Marine Commandos, called MARCOS is one of the best Special Operation Force unit in India and also in the world. Whatever task has been given to them they have performed exceedingly well and the results were always impressive.

From the past three decades, their service to the nation is commendable. They have carried out operations in Kashmir, Arabian Sea, etc and foiled many piracy attempts. They are also the unsung heroes of 26/11 terror attack.


Introduction –

Widely feared as the “Bearded army” for their disguise outfit; MARCOS, previously named as Marine Commando Force (MCF) has been serving the country from past three decades. The first batch of marine commandos qualified in February 1987 and since then they have acquired experience and a reputation for professionalism.

They are trained to perform an operation in any terrain, land – water – air but they are specialized to conduct special operations in the maritime environment.

They are well equipped with small arms like:

  • Pistol Auto 9mm 1AS
  • Sterling submachine gun
  • AK-103, APS underwater rifle
  • Heckler & Koch PSG1

to support weapons like:

  • IWI Negev
  • Arsenal AD
  • AGS-17
  • B-300 Anti-Tank

MARCOS can be launched into operations from ships, aircraft, and submarines in full battle gear. There transport consists of HAL Dhruv, Westland Sea King, HAL Chetak Helicopter, All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), Indian Navy Swimmer Delivery Vehicle.


Main purpose or role –

MARCOS are Special Operation Force of Indian Navy. Their role is to conduct special operations like Anti-Piracy ops, CI/CT ops in Kashmir, or even civil assistance in a natural disaster.

They work as a Guardian of the Indian Sea and coastal areas, fighting maritime terrorism, Anti-Piracy ops, hostage rescue, diving operations, surveillance and recce missions, conducting unconventional warfare are the type of operations they are sent into.


How to become a Marco Commando?

It’s not easy to be a part of such elite special force unit, not just physically fit you need to be mentally strong and should be very clear with your thoughts.
To earn the Marine Commando badge one has to go a hard training process where they are tested to their limits and those who are ready to go one step forward become a MARCO.

Members of the first batch of Marine Commando were sent to undergo the US Navy SEALs training and further training from British SAS. Now the training consists of a two-year course for new recruits.

Why Indian Navy Commandos 'MARCOS' are considered as the best Special Force unit
British Royal Marines train with MARCOS

The training regimen includes airborne operations, combat diving courses, counter-terrorism, anti-hijacking anti-piracy operations, direct action, infiltration and exfiltration tactics, unconventional warfare training etc. Majority of the training is conducted at INS Abhimanyu which is also the home base of MARCOS.

MARCOS train along with the Indian Army Special Forces Officers like the Para Commandos at the Indian Special Force Training School, Nahan.

MARCOS are then trained at various training agencies within the navy. They are skilled combat divers and parachutists and most of the training deals with counter-terrorism, anti-hijacking and anti-piracy operations.



Anil Raina – First MARCO From Jammu To Lead Republic Day Parade


Generally, the pre-training selection process is made of two parts. Any Indian Navy personnel who wants to join this outfit must first undergo a three-day long, physical fitness test and aptitude test. Within this process, 80% of the application is screened out. The further screening process is known as ‘hell’s week’ which is similar to the US Navy SEALs hell’s week.

Why Indian Navy Commandos 'MARCOS' are considered as the best Special Force unit
MARCOS Commando in a training exercise

This involves the high degree of physical exercises and sleeps deprivation. It is only after this process that actual training begins

The total duration of training of MARCOS is between two and a half to three years.

The basic training lasts six months. The first two months is the weeding out phase. The first phase of which lasts one month, in which they undergo many rigorous physical tests of which only 50% pass. Then for the next nine months, they are taught how to use different types of weapons, conduct special warfare techniques and how to gather intelligence from the enemy.

This is followed by a year of training of specialized skills. They are trained in various types of close combat. Being divers, they can reach hostile shores swimming underwater.

The average MARCOS training drop-out rate is more than 90%.


Operations –

Just recently on October 6th, 2017 Indian Navy MARCOS onboard INS Trishul carried out an Anti-Piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden. They foiled the piracy attempt on an Indian ship MV Jag Amar at 1230h.

Why Indian Navy Commandos 'MARCOS' are considered as the best Special Force unit
Indian Navy Anti-Piracy ops in the Gulf of Aden

One AK-47 and one magazine with 27 rounds were recovered. Twelve suspected pirates in one skiff, grapnel and ladders were also been recovered.


Why Indian Navy Commandos 'MARCOS' are considered as the best Special Force unit
Arun Bahuguna

During this operation, Indian Navy under the command of Arun Bahuguna (CO, INS Cankarso) carried out an Anti-Piracy rescue operation where they busted 15 Somali Pirates and rescue 20 sailors after a long firefight between the pirates and the commandos onboard INS Cankarso. For Arun’s inspirational leadership and exceptional courage & initiative, he was awarded “Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry)”.


26/11 Mumbai Attack –

MARCOS are the unsung heroes of 26/11 terror attack which shook the country, killing many innocent people.

CCTV captured the MARCOS in the corridors of Taj

It was a turning point of the attack when eight Indian Navy Marine Commandos (MARCOS) arrived at the scene. They navigated through the smoke-filled corridors, past the bodies of the dead and the dying, equipped with bulletproof jackets, AK-47s, and MP5 submachine guns. A gunfight broke out between the four terrorist in Taj and the commandos, terrorist then ran into a library MARCOS followed them. Again they started trading shots, in the firefight two commandos got injured so they had to retrieve and help them meanwhile the terrorist ran out from the back door of the library. Unaware of the hotel’s layout MARCOS carefully entered the library after waiting for one hour and found no sign of the terrorist.

After that, they shifted their focus in rescuing doomed guests trapped in the various function rooms.

Why Indian Navy Commandos 'MARCOS' are considered as the best Special Force unit
A MARCO giving press statement after 26/11 attack

One hundred and sixty-five persons died in the 26/11 attacks. But for the timely MARCOS intervention, the toll, as we know it, could have been far, far higher.

It wouldn’t be fair to not mention Ex-MARCOS Commando Praveen Teotia, who was a part of Commando team during the 26/11 attack. He was shot while combating the enemies due to which he got partially disabled and was let off from duty.

Restless at his desk job, the former commando decided that he would prove his worth in perhaps the only way he knew best. In order to show that he was physically fit enough for active service, Teotia applied for a Navy mountaineering expedition but his application was rejected.

Undeterred, the former Navy commando began participating in marathons.
Sometime along the way, Teotia, a Shaurya Chakra recipient conquered the Khardung La Challenge, arguably one of the toughest marathons in the world.


Conclusion –

So as I said earlier it’s not fair to compare any Special Forces unit but It is fair to say that Yes, Indian Navy Marine Commando, MARCOS is one of the best SOF units that we have got in India and in the world.

Whatever task you give them they will perform them like warriors and with high success rate.


The Few The Fearless


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