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How Special Forces Of India, MARCOS & Para SF Compete Against US Navy SEALs?

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Why the Special Forces of India including MARCOS and Para SF are nowhere close to the US  Navy SEALs and other Western Special Forces. Though MARCOS and Para SF commandos are more resilient and daring, however, the lack of resources impairs their operations and thus the success rate. So, how do the special forces of India, MARCOS & Para SF stand against the western counterparts? A EurAsian Times analysis.

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US Navy Seals in Action

There is an almost embarrassing lack of adequate acquisition within the elite regiments of the Special Forces of India. The Marine Commandos (MARCOS) and Paramilitary Special Forces (Para SF) are highly undervalued than their American counterpart – Navy SEALs.

Special Forces Of India – Para SF

The Indian Army’s wing of Special Force commandos called Para SF was created in 1966 during the Indo-Pakistan War (1965). They came in existence under a maverick military endeavour undertaken by Major Megh Singh who constituted a small group of lethal soldiers to operate behind enemy lines and thwart enemy defences.

The team was initially called the ‘Meghdoot Force’ owing to the ad-hoc nature of the operation under Major Megh Singh. This group was disbanded and joined with the Parachute Regiment, which became the first special operations unit.

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Para SF – Special Forces of India

The current strength of the Para SF stands around 5000-6000 personnel. The Para SF has participated in many combat operations including Operation Bluestar, conflict in the Maldives and the 1999 Kargil War. Para SF is considered one of the oldest special force of India having real combat experience.

Special Forces Of India – MARCOS

The Marine Commandos (MARCOS) is an elite force within the Indian Navy who are trained to perform missions on all terrains. In terms of capabilities, the MARCOS are the closest to that of the Navy SEALs.

Formerly known as Indian Marine Special Force, the group is said to be particularly specialised in maritime operations. With a strength around 2000, most of their operations remain classified.

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Among the known active combat involvements, the group has participated in Operation Pawan (Sri Lanka-LTTE conflict), Operation Black Tornado (2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks) and the 1999 Kargil War. The training programme of the outfit is modelled around that of the Navy SEALs and harbours a lot of comparison in that line.

The combined capabilities of the special forces units like MARCOS and Para SF are effective in many situations of “unconventional combat.” These regiments are heavily involved in counter-insurgency operations and special reconnaissance for the Indian Navy and Indian Army respectively and national security sustenance as a whole.

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MARCOS – Special Forces of India

These outfits are also heavily vested in hostage rescue operations, the difference being that MARCOS involves itself in mostly maritime environments while the Para SF largely seeks operations within and beyond Indian territories.

The MARCOS is heavily involved in clandestine operations on vital maritime assets behind enemy lines, amphibious operations and pre-assault ops in support of military operations. The Para SF, on the other hand, is involved in almost similar activities but on largely on land. They are involved in subversion and sabotage operations behind enemy lines along with covert and direct action operations.

Special Forces of India – Where are they Lacking?

Combat in recent times has achieved an aggregated impetus with growing tensions in different parts of the nation’s borders. In an attempt to combat this crisis,  the armed forces have instituted elite regiments to cater to threats that might hamper India’s sovereignty.

The special forces of India such as the MARCOS (Marine Commandos – Indian Navy), PARA SF (Paramilitary Special Forces – Indian Army) find themselves ill-prepared in modern covert and direct warfare as compared to their American counterparts.

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There is a glaring lack of modernisation within the special forces of the Indian military. There is a major setback in the weapons of warfare with the Para SF using the Israeli TAR 21 Tavor, Israeli rifle that fails to give the same impact than the use of arms by the Navy SEALs.

More often than not, the ammunitions provided to the Navy SEALs are largely technically sound and highly modernised. There is a great use of technology and amalgamation of tactile arms use and modern resources.

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Special Forces of Russia – Alpha Group

There is a lack of equipment and weapons within Indian special forces. Where the Navy SEALs have M88 .50 PIP and M-14 sniper rifles and AT4 anti-tank rockets, the Para SF finds themselves highly undermined with most of their kit supplied by the Ordnance Factory Board.

There is a lack of good anti-material rifles, long-range sniper rifles. A common complaint within the special forces outfits in the military is the lack of regiment specific equipment which is solely dedicated to the particular unit of the special forces.

Commenting on the Bin Laden mission by the Navy SEALs, an Indian SF officer pointed out (as per secondary research by the EurAsian Times) that the entire mission was carried out in Special Operations Black Hawk helicopters. The officer suggested, “We can only boast of Mi-17V5 transport choppers which too are not dedicated for us.”

Special Forces of India – What’s Going Wrong?

There is a lack of coordination within the command circles for these forces as a result of which there is a lack of cohesiveness in their response. There is a separate intelligence wing for each special forces outfit which makes it chaotic to pass and share information for effective execution of the mission.

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Apart from an overall lack of coordination, there are rampant turf wars that often end up in wasteful expenditure. An example is, the purchase of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs) by the Air Force, Army and Navy in that order. Each of these was bought at different prices from Israel unmindful of the repair and maintenance costs.

It is rumoured that most of the acquired UAVs now collect dust in some military warehouse. There is an argument to be made for a centralised authority among the Special Forces units of all faction of the military. This system is followed by the US Navy SEALs and other Special Force units under the aegis of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

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The British SAS – Special Forces of the UK

The JSOC has all the special operatives under its wing and directly reports to the US Secretary of Defence and the President while carrying out its missions. There is a need to free the Indian special forces from the trampling Indian bureaucracy of the Defence Ministry and allow them to acquire weapons and services by vesting spending on to their command.

The extensive delay to even acquire a rifle maims the purpose of the elite nature of the outfit. The newly raised 11 and 12 Para SF units were found to deployed with basic infantry weapons in the North-East and lacked enough weapons to carry out the operation.

MARCOS has been asking for special platform V-22 Osprey helicopters which can stealthily take small teams in and out of terrains, which was shot down and almost entirely disregarded in the alleys of defence bureaucratic circus.

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Special Forces of India – Lacking Technology?

The major difference between the Navy SEALs and the special forces of India (MARCOS, Para SF) is the fact that the SEALs are involved in a heavily centralised chain of command. Their missions take a national value and any and every instrument is left at their disposal.

This does not seem to be the case with the special forces of India. Another factor is the fact that there is heavy investment in modernisation tendencies within the US and this spills over to the military spending as well. The investment in UAVs and such arms and ammunitions that are largely driven by technology are seen as tactical advantages on the ground.

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The units tend to have a better knowledge of the domain than their Indian counterparts due to artificially available and highly capable alternatives. There is also the added advantage of experience in combat that the Navy SEALs can boast about. The most recent teams have been involved in more than 20 years of collective combat experience.

It is an important advantage that the special forces of India lack, comparatively. It is also important to factor in the tightly knit relationship between the CIA and JSOC which helps in the effective execution of any mission. The coordinated efforts of intelligence agencies, defence innovation industry and the operatives make for easy execution.

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A Mini Drone Operated By the US Special Forces

The state of coordinated efforts in Indian special forces circles is abysmal as it is maimed by a turf war, bracketed lines of communications with each wing having its trail of intelligence. There is a lack of coordination and sharing of intelligence. The ineffectiveness of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to innovate due to never-ending red tape and jingoism leads to further shoddiness in work ethic and therefore precision-driven results.

There is the fact that in recent times, the value of these elite forces has been degrading consistently. The elite status bestowed upon these operatives owing to their specific training for carrying out specific operations is being undermined.

It is found that nowadays the special forces personnel are being utilised as lower corps formation in infantry battalions. There is a decadent inability to see the value of special forces operative as a strategic asset rather than a tactical asset.

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It is imperative that the Indian special forces are kept away from Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) and daily counter-terror operations. At a time when the world is seen to utilise tactical gear and highly modernised machinery, Indian forces still seem to live in the world of using Maruti Gypsy.

It is important that the special forces acquire the state of the art technology to combat the dynamic nature of the terrorist threat of the modern world. Essentially, Indian special forces need the technology of tomorrow and not yesterday to come at par with the US Navy Seals.

There must be an increase in training opportunities in foreign countries. The ramping up of Para SF, MARCOS and other Indian SF units training sessions with US Army SF, Navy SEALs, Sayeret Matkal and the British SAS. The involvement of the unorthodox but effective tactics of the Russian Spetsnaz have seen to take effect in modern warfare, the Indian units can gain from engaging with these foreign outfits.

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Improvements in Special Forces of India

In recent years, there have been some improvements in the initiatives taken for the sake of the Indian Special Forces. The recent constitution for central command, Armed Forces Special Operations Division, has taken shape.

Major General AK Dhingra is said to helm the initiative and this division would be the first point of contact for major counter-terrorist operations. This division would have a strength of 3000 personnel drawn from all special forces services in the country. There are reports that the said Armed Forces Special Operations Division would have its coordinated cyber agency to collect, coordinate and execute intelligence for any given operation.

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In terms of weaponry, the special forces can see an upgrade with the purchase of new long-range sniper rifles and portable anti-tank systems and modernisation efforts to the clandestine warfare arm. The government has called for specialised weaponry from Finland, Germany, Sweden, Israel and Russia.

According to sources, more attention is being paid to elite forces as a result of growing insurgency near the borders. Contracts for new Finnish Sako sniper rifles, Swedish Carl Gustaf Mark-4 light weight rocket-launchers, Italian Beretta pistols with silencers, for instance, have been inked for the Army’s existing nine Para-SF battalions, suggests sources.

Russian VSS suppressed sniper rifles, air-droppable rubberised inflatable boats, remotely operated underwater vehicles for explosive disposal, combat free-fall parachutes, hands-free power ascenders and opposed boarding equipment are all in the pipe for the MARCOS.

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There is no doubt in the capabilities of the Indian special forces especially MARCOS and Para SF. In terms of physical and intellectual abilities during combat, the Indian elite soldiers are at par or if not better than their US counterparts.

Modern warfare isn’t just about grit anymore, there are many moving pieces and technological integration that gives an edge on the ground. If special forces of India wishes to reach the standards of the Navy SEALs, British SAS or Russian Alpha Group, it is important that the system is overhauled. The debilitatingly chronic delays on items as fundamental as parachutes and new rifles stifle the morale of the officers. Until these glaring holes in the bureaucracy are not addressed, India may never truly realise the full potential of MARCOS and Para SF.

The analysis has been penned by Mumbai based author Rahul Mahesh.

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Modi & Trumps’ Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) Drug For Treating COVID-19 Increased Deaths Rates – Latest Study

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After US President Donald Trump claimed to have been taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as protection against coronavirus, a paper published in the Lancet Medical Journal says that hydroxychloroquine and its older version chloroquine resulted in increased deaths in patients.

“This is the first large-scale study to find statistically robust evidence that treatment with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine does not benefit patients with Covid-19,” said Prof Mandeep R Mehra, lead author of the study and executive director of the Brigham and Women’s hospital advanced heart disease centre in Boston, US.

He further added that the findings suggest that it may be associated with an increased risk of serious heart problems and increased risk of death.

Scientists have suggested that the drug shouldn’t be used to treat COVID-19 patients, except in carefully controlled clinical trials. “Whilst controlled trials will be required for confident affirmation, the indications are that these drugs certainly ought not to be used outside of a trial setting where patients can be monitored for complications,” said Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor in the school of medicine, University of Leeds.

He further criticised Trump’s recommendation to take the drug as a preventive measure and cure against COVID-19 by saying that “the high-profile endorsements of taking these drugs without clinical oversight are both misguided and irresponsible.”

Trump countered by saying that he’s doing fine after taking a two-week course of an unproven malaria drug for COVID-19, declaring, “I’m still here.”

The results of the study show that drugs are fairly safe to be used for patients suffering from malaria but can be fatal for COVID-19 patients. The study gathered the results for more than 96,000 patients in 671 hospitals, taking one of the drugs, with or without an antibiotic such as azithromycin, between 20 December and 14 April.

The demand for the drug spiked when a French doctor, Didier Raoult, said that he was able to cure his patients using the drug. After that Trump took to Twitter and wrote that “Hydroxychloroquine & azithromycin, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine”. Azithromycin is an antibiotic drug used to treat bacterial infections.

The death rate among all groups taking the drugs was higher than among people who were not given them. One in six of those taking one of the drugs died, while one in five died if they were taking chloroquine with an antibiotic, and one in four if they were on hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic. The death rate among patients not taking the drugs was one in 11.

The study also found out that the drug can cause serious heart-related diseases like cardiac arrhythmias which causes the lower chamber of the heart to beat rapidly and irregularly.

It further suggested that 8% of patients suffered from such heart diseases who were treated with hydroxychloroquine in combination with an antibiotic whereas, only 0.3% of patients developed such disease where these drugs were not given at all.

“A definitive answer still awaits the results of the randomised trials, but it is clear that the drugs should not be given for the treatment of Covid-19 other than in the context of a randomised trial,” said Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

He added that it might be unethical to keep on giving these drugs considering this study which has not been contradicted yet.

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US’ Conflict With China More Dangerous Than It Was With The USSR – Experts

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Amidst the rising tensions between the US and China, the US Air Force has now increased warplane activity over the South China Sea along with significantly amplifying the flyovers of B-1B Lancer bombers in the region.

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While Chinese defence experts have warned of the growing risk of military conflict between the two economic superpowers, the Pentagon has rather intensified the US presence in the contested waters of the South China Sea.

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Courtesy – US Navy via Twitter

The US Pacific Air Forces took to Twitter on Tuesday to inform that the B-1 bombers had trained for a few days with the US Navy near Hawaii after which they conducted a mission in the South China Sea.

The tweet by PACAF mentioned that the mission “demonstrated the credibility of US air forces to address a diverse and uncertain security environment.”

Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military affairs commentator, told media that the rise in the frequency of the flyovers of B-1 and B-52 bombers were simply not to display the US military presence in the region but were essential exercises to prepare for potential battles of the future.

Song remarked that “China and the US are entering into a full-fledged competition and the situation is gloomier than the US-Soviet Union Cold War. Risks of military conflict cannot be ruled out in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. And they are increasing.”

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The strategic move by Washington comes the same day when Beijing started an 11-week military exercise that aims to strengthen its military presence in waters of the Yellow Sea.

China has also been raising the bar for its military as the country had enabled the service of two new upgraded nuclear-powered strategic submarines. It is also reported that Beijing is planning to soon launch the Xian H-20 supersonic stealth bomber.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said that “We greatly underestimated the degree to which Beijing is ideologically and politically hostile to free, democratic nations. The whole world is waking up to that fact.”

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Experts opine that the political and diplomatic conflict between the US and China has become increasingly “tense and turbulent” as the US accuses China of spreading coronavirus and threatens to penalize Beijing.

With the recent developments in the region by the US Air Force, Li Jie, a military specialist based in Beijing, believes that “obviously, decision-makers in the Pentagon are trying to use the bombers as a new tool in its strategic deterrence against China. We will see intensified B-1 interference into airspace over the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea in May,” and China is ready to counter any threat.

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US Backs India Over Border Clash With China; Calls Beijing’s Action As ‘Disturbing Behavior’

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The US has slammed Chinese actions along the line of actual control with India and called Beijing’s actions as “disturbing behaviour”. The US said the clashes were a reminder of the threat that China posed whether in the South China Sea or on the borders with India.

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Senior US official Alice Wells told reporters that the border skirmishes were “a reminder that Chinese hostility is not always just rhetorical. Whether it is in the South China Sea or along the border with India, we continue to see provocations and disturbing behaviour by China that poses questions about how Beijing seeks to use its growing power.”

Wells also said China’s behaviour was causing other countries to club together to strengthen the post Second World War economic order. She cited ASEAN, the trilateral partnership between India, the U.S. and Japan as well as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with these countries and Australia.

How Special Forces Of India, MARCOS & Para SF Compete Against US Navy SEALs?

Galway valley in Aksai China has now become the latest flashpoint between India and China. The Indian Army deployed 250 soldiers in the Galwan Valley after reports emerged that Chinese were increasing the military build-up in the area.

The situation in Galwan Valley escalated after Chinese media accused India of building “illegal” defence facilities in the Galwan Valley region of the disputed Aksai Chin area, which is under Chinese control but claimed by India.

India and China have had a turbulent relationship as both nations fought a brief, but bloody war in 1962 and have been regularly involved in border disputes along the LaC as well as in the Indian Ocean.

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The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LaC, with China claiming the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Both China and India consider the maintenance of peace and harmony to be vital as both nations find a solution to the border dispute.

Only a few years ago, the nuclear-armed countries were involved in the fiercest dispute since the 1960s, as soldiers of both countries were engaged in a 73-day standoff in Doklam. While the two countries have been largely peaceful since 2017, the recent flare-ups could be detrimental to the China-India relations.

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