Selection Process Of Para SF And Probation Period
Read this article to understand the selection process of 10 Para SF and probation period, in other words how to join the special forces and become a para commando. Special Forces units – one of the most ruthless, dangerous and determined killing machines on the planet earth. ‘Men of steel’ whose physical and mental toughness is beyond imagination. They are just 4500 selected men out of 1.25 million strong Indian Army. Why so less? Because there is no recruitment rally for any of 10 Special Forces battalions, because each one of them (Jawans and officers alike) is a volunteer from other units of the Indian Army, because 90% of the candidates who volunteer for SF fail during probation and those who finally join the SF units are `Men apart, every man an emperor`.
Making of a Scorpion
As per the process, any officer who is eager to earn the Maroon Beret must write to the Commanding Officer of the SF unit, he wishes to join. After his request is accepted, candidate officer goes through 6 months of Probation. During this time, he undergoes one of the toughest training procedures in the world.
10 Para (SF) are also known as Desert Scorpions. Officers and jawans opting for 10 Para (SF) are trained specially for Desert warfare. At the start of the probation, they are given a tent, a bucket, a knife, a rope and a laltain. They have to setup their tent in the desert. Rigorous physical training goes day and night with no specific routine as there is no specific training manual. They get trained, sometimes, without food for 4 days, 1 litre water for 3 days and without sleep for 7 days. Sleep deprivation sometimes starts the moment probation starts. He will always have a 10KG sandbag on his back – this sandbag is affectionately called permanent buddy. Objective is to make the candidate realize that he is far more capable than he ever imagined. The moment he shows any weakness, he is out.
Every month he has to complete 10KM, 20KM, 30KM and 40 KM speed walk with full battle gears that means additional 25 KG. These speed walks should be completed within stipulated time.
Scorpions are better navigator than modern GPS systems. In desert, there are no roads, no landmarks, not much human colonies. There are just sand dunes that keep shifting every night. In such vast and clueless place, they are halo/air dropped in the middle of nowhere, with just a compass in their hand. And using that compass and stars, they reach their destination without fail, every time. They are taught to survive with literally nothing to eat or drink. They collect dew in the wee hours to survive. Just 300 ml of water is good for them to survive for 2 days. Remember it is 50+ degrees in Thar and a normal human needs more than 10 liters a day to survive. Mustaffa’s are taught to eat anything that moves in the desert area. They specially like eating scorpions – `Once you kill and roast it, remove its venom, it is really tasty`. They know which grass, which leaf, which shrub to eat to stay alive to complete the mission. Because the battle is not won by dying for your country but to kill the enemy.
During the 6-month probation period, no candidate gets rejected because 90% of candidates give up by themselves and go back to their respective units. Before declaring any candidate fit for the unit, the Commanding Officer would consult the Probation Officer of the candidate, other officers, Subedar Major, senior JCOs and even Jawans. This might sound odd but it is very important as the whole unit is a one big close knit family, where every soldier trusts his Brother-in-arms for his life. It is not easy to earn that Maroon Beret, apart from physical and mental toughness, one has to have the camaraderie to prove his worth.
Here comes the fun part. When an officer is selected, the CO and other officers will bring the Maroon Beret placed in the oldest trophy won by 10 Para. Trophy will also be filled with drinks – it could be whisky, rum, beer, juice or a mix of all. Candidate will have to drink that all, empty the trophy and wear his Maroon Beret himself. No one will put the maroon beret on his head because, as they say in the SF units, he has earned it. Then during the dining-in ceremony, after finishing his first drink, candidate officer will have to break a piece of his glass, chew it till it becomes (almost) sand and gulp that down with some more whisky. Showing true camaraderie, all other officers do the same.
Candidate would not earn the famous Balidan badge, just because he has earned the Maroon Beret. He will have to undergo Para training in Agra to earn the Para Wing badge and then wait for his first successful operation to earn the Balidan badge – it symbolizes sacrifices one has made on the battlefield.
After the probation, they undergo specialized training at Special Forces Training Centre, where they get trained for Weapons, Communications, Navigation, Medical and Demolition. These five training’s are crucial because during any mission, it would be a team of minimum five commandos. Team is designed in such a way that each member has completed these skills as his primary and secondary, thereby no dependency on any one person for any task.
10 Para (SF) are specially trained for operations in desert – from the lower border of Punjab till Gujarat. But make no mistake; they are always ready take on any task anywhere. They make their frequent trips to the J&K. 10 SF were among the first who went up the kargil hills and brought back information about the scale of intrusion.
Like LTTE in Sri Lanka, terrorists in J&K fear SF units because they know that SF guys will wait for them forever sitting still, for days, in the rain, dew or ice, with food or without and will not go home without capturing the terrorist dead or alive.
During a covert operation, disguised as brainwashed Kashmiris/jihadi Pakistani, Maj Sangram Singh (Shaurya Chakra) and Capt Vikas of 10 Para (SF) stayed with LeT terrorists in their camp in a jungle for 4 days. During this covert operation, they gathered tremendous amount of information and killed all 4 terrorists. Indian Army broke down LeT network using that information. Terrorists were so terrorised that they were always on the run thereafter.
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