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Marine Commando Force (MARCOS)

The Marine Commando Force (MCF) known as MARCOS is a special forces unit that was raised by the Indian Navy in 1987. The structure and size of the MCF is classified, however, speculation suggests that the force is comprised of approximately 2,000 personnel. Modelled after the US Navy SEALs and the Royal Marines it was created to handle reconnaissance, raids and Counter-terrorism in a maritime environment.

American and British special forces assisted in its initial training, which now consists of a two-year course for new recruits. The training regiment includes: weapons, operational reconaissance, airborne, and diving courses. All MARCOS personnel are static line parachute qualified and a number are freefall qualified (HALO/HAHO). The MARCOS reputedly undergo the most strenuous training and dropout is more than 90%.

The Indian Navy's elite Marine commando (MARCOs) force can be launched from Ships, Aircraft and Submarines in full battle gear. The Marinc Commando cadre was creatcd in 1987 with a complement of 38 officcrs and 373 sailors. These personnel were selected from clearance and ships divers of thc Navy for meeting the threat to national off shore areas. The Chariot cadre personnel are rquired to operate the submersible craft (CHARIOTS) during preemptive strikes in enemy harbours. In view of the rishy nature of their dutics, personnel of the cadre are entitled to Marine Commando and Chariot Pay. The Annul Forces have suggested continuance of the existing parity of the Marine Commandos and Chariot Pay with Submarine Pay in view of the increasing frcsutncy with which they are called upon to perform. The salient features of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, which was apporved by the Union Cabinet on 14 August 2008, include a provision that the rates of Special Forces Allowance for Army and Air Force are to be equated with Navy"s Marine Commando Allowance.

The last time the Indian Navy bolstered its aviation arm was in the mid-1980s with a series of inductions that included the marine commando carrying version of Seaking helicopters from the UK. The utilization of HAL manufactured Dornier, mounted with modern synthetic aperture radar and electronic warfare equipment for coastal and short range surveillance, has proved to be a success. Induction of 11 more aircraft is in the pipeline and some are being configured to carry paratroopers for marine commando operations.

It's first action was against the LTTE in Sri Lanka as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). In recent years, it has maintained a significant presence in Kashmir as a part of India's counterterrorist efforts. Major ports in the country would have their own elite marine commando units deployed on the lines of the National Security Guard, as part of their initiative to beef up security in the wake of the November 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai. Army, Marine Commandos (MARCOS) and National Security Guard (NSG) commandos were involved in a fierce encounter with a group of terrorists inside the Taj and Oberoi hotels. MARCOS, the first team to enter the hotels, encountered stiff resistance from the terrorists who were heavily armed and well entrenched inside. That the terrorists had landed in Mumbai by sea prompted the Shipping Ministry to lay out an elaborate plan to upgrade security levels in the ports. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which is in charge of security at the major ports, will train its men to be commandos. The elite team, which will be trained by the marine commandos of the Navy and the NSG. Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta offered facilities for training commandoes, as it cannot spare Marine Commandoes for the National Security Guard or NSG.



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