Marine commandos fight militants
in their own coin
By Ritu Sharma
Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS) At first glance, they can be mistaken
for militants. Sporting long beards and even toting AK-47
assault rifles - Indian Navy's marine commandos follow in
letter and spirit the adage of the counter-terrorism doctrine:
“Fight a militant like a militant”.
Marcos (abbreviation of marine commandos), dubbed as the “bearded
force” by the militants and having a knack of executing covert
operations, were called in along with National Security Guards
and army commandos as armed militants holed up inside two
luxury hotels in the commercial capital of India-Mumbai.
sky divers and sea divers, the Marcos could sabotage enemy
vessels and harbour installations. They can operate in beach,
coastal, jungles and ravines areas. Being divers, they could
reach hostile shores swimming underwater,” a senior navy official
told IANS on condition of anonymity.
known as the Indian Marine Special Force, the unit was raised
in 1987 out of the naval divers to lead amphibious operations.
The personnel volunteering for the force have to undergo a
rigorous two-years training, by the end of which only 10-25
percent of the enrolled commandos remain.
have been active in Jammu and Kashmir as part of the army's
counter terrorist efforts. Their main task is to control the
infiltration of terrorists from across the border into Jammu
and Kashmir through Jhelum river and Wullar, a 65 square kilometer
Marcos personnel are also attached with the Army special forces
units conducting counter-terrorism operations in the area.
operate similar to the Israeli Mistaravim units sporting beards
and wearing the pheren (Kashmiri suit), thus making them indistinguishable
from the locals,” the official added.
Marcos have gained a fearsome reputation among terrorists
who refer to them as the Dadiwali Fauj (Bearded Army) since
MARCOS are the only non-Sikh personnel allowed to grow beard,
Jal Murgi (Water Hens) for the speed in which they assault
from the water and Magarmachh (Crocodiles) for their amphibious
the elite force earned accolades for the Indian Navy after
they repulsed pirates attacks off the Somali coast on an Indian
and a Saudi merchant vessel Nov 11.
April 1986, the Indian Navy mooted a plan for a special force,
which would be able to conduct reconnaissance, raids and even
counter-terrorist operations in a maritime environment. Three
Naval Officers were sent for training with the US Navy SEALS
and further training was conducted with British Special Forces.
These three Naval Officers formed the nucleus of the Indian
Marine Special Force (IMSF) that was formally raised in February
strength of the unit is a closely guarded secret, however
sources say that the number could be close to 2,000 personnel.
Currently, there are three main groups attached to the three
naval commands - Mumbai (West), Cochin (South) and Vizag (East).
unit's quick rise has changed its role - it was intended to
be dedicated to special maritime operations, but a considerable
part of the MARCOS is doubling as marine infantry with the
usual flexibility of commando forces.