When the angels have fallen down, and the devil has had his day... you’ll find the gates of heaven, guarded by a single MAROON BERET!
And earning this prestigious maroon beret is the toughest task on earth.
When it comes to covert missions, India relies on its Para Special Forces, a specially trained set of units, known for carrying out operations deep into the enemy territory.
The Indian Army has 9 battalions of Special Forces and each of them is equipped and skilled to execute secret and difficult missions.
What makes Para SF different from other battalions of Indian Army is their training, which is not only the toughest military training in India, but is also one of the most gruelling commando training regimes in the world.
The Para SF soldiers have to go through a special 90-days probation where their mental and physical limits are put to test.
From combat training to endurance tests, this training can bring most of the soldiers to their breaking point.
And maybe this is the reason why attrition rate in Para SF is very high, close to 80%. In fact, the selection process itself has reported deaths in some cases.
Talking to ET, Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (retd), who was the Colonel of the Paras Regiment said:
"We feel we are a bunch of misfits that fit well together. During training, the aim is to basically break the will of the soldier. It’s only when we don’t succeed that it means the soldier has passed."
Their training isn't just limited to weapons training, they are also taught communication, medical and cooking skills.
The list of skills they are trained for is a long one, which also includes training in different languages as they are required to serve as undercover agents.
One of the toughest parts of their training is the 36-hour stress phase.
During this phase, they aren’t allowed to sleep for 36 hours in a row with no food and water and are put through excessive physical and mental torture.
There are different rounds of training. In the first round, soldiers are required to carry two jerry cans of 20 litres each. In the second, they have to carry truck tyres weighing 60-85 kg. And in the third round, they have to carry wood logs weighing 30-80 kg. All this is in addition to their 30 kg bags and weapon.
In the latter part of this phase, their hands and legs are tied and they are asked to jump into 12 feet deep chilled water tank. With minimum or no oxygen, soldiers almost reach their breaking point here.
They are also trained in combat free fall, which involves learning both HALO (high altitude low opening) and HAHO (high altitude high opening) parachute jumps and are even made to crawl through sewage lines.
Towards the end of their training and before their induction as a Maroon Beret, these soldiers are made to eat glass. This glass eating tradition is a ritual that tests their fearlessness.
This tradition was mentioned in a blog post written by a retired Special Forces Para Commando.
Most of their missions are kept secret, but what we should know is that they have been a part of all the important missions of India, including the Uri surgical strikes.
A big salute to these soldiers who have grit and determination of steel and have been protecting us from grave dangers for a long time.