How to Become a MARCOS – Marine Commando of Indian Navy

Special Forces play a vital role in countering terrorism threats and upholding internal peace within the nation. These forces are specialized to respond swiftly and effectively to any form of terrorist threat and take the necessary actions to prevent it. The Indian armed forces have their own special forces, such as ParaSF, GARUD, and more. MARCOS is a specialized force maintained by the Indian Navy, dedicated to managing emergency situations that may arise from various sources.

Marine Commondo Force :

The Marine Commando Force (MCF), a branch of the Indian Navy, specializes in various domains, including amphibious warfare, counter-terrorism, unconventional warfare, and rescue operations. The force was established in 1987 and currently comprises approximately 2000 dedicated soldiers. They are well-known for their valiant actions during significant events, notably the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

The MCF collaborates with the Indian Army to operate in northern regions, such as Kashmir. They have been actively involved in operations like Cactus, Leech, Pawan, Cyclone, and more. Their remarkable performance and contributions have been widely recognized and appreciated. The force’s motto is “The few, the fearless.”

Recruitment of MARCOS Commandos

Recruitment for MARCOS is exclusively for male personnel, as it is a naval unit. Selection is conducted at an early stage of a soldier’s career, typically in their early twenties, to maintain the force’s vigor and enthusiasm. Aspirants have several entry options, including NDA, CDS, SSC, and direct recruitment for lower-ranking positions within the Indian Navy.

This demanding role requires a high level of basic physical fitness, and the training process is accordingly rigorous. To join this elite organization, individuals must first become a part of the Indian Navy. The selection process involves two phases. The first phase spans three days and assesses a soldier’s physical stamina. The second phase, which is more challenging, determines the final selection of candidates for further training. During the screening and selection phase, more than half of the applicants are typically rejected based on their physical fitness, which is a crucial requirement for the force.

Training of MARCOS Commando

The training process for MARCOS commandos is an extensive one, typically spanning 2-3 years. A significant portion of this training occurs at INS Abhimanyu. However, MARCOS candidates receive training at various Indian Navy and Indian Army establishments. Additionally, they undergo specialized training alongside the Army’s paramilitary forces at the Indian Special Forces Training School.

Aspiring individuals who aim to become MARCOS must first become naval soldiers. Subsequently, they may be presented with the golden opportunity to join this esteemed and elite force. Being a part of a special force is a matter of great honor for any soldier, signifying their exceptional dedication and capabilities.

READ HERE – How To Become A NSG Commando – National Security Guards

Operations by MARCOS :-

The MARCOS, the elite Indian Navy commandos, have been involved in several significant operations:

  1. Operation Pawan (1987): They accompanied the Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka to confront the LTTE’s marine elements in Jaffna. This operation involved swimming 12 km to the Jaffna jetty with their combat load, infiltrating without detection, and blowing up the harbor. The commandos encountered LTTE resistance but managed to return without casualties.
  2. Operation Cactus (1988): MARCOS thwarted a coup attempt in the Maldives by capturing a boat with 46 mercenaries and their hostages who had fled after the failed coup.
  3. Operation Tasha (1991): MARCOS were deployed off the southern Tamil Nadu coast to intercept LTTE infiltration and arms smuggling.
  4. Operation Zabardust (1992): MARCOS intercepted the LTTE vessel MV Ahat, which was smuggling arms and ammunition. They captured the mercenaries before the vessel was sunk by the LTTE.
  5. United Nations Operation in Somalia (1993): Four MARCOS teams supported the Indian contingent in Somalia, providing maritime special operations assistance to the Naval Task Force.
  6. Operation Rakshak (1995): MARCOS teams were deployed in Jammu & Kashmir at Wular Lake to deter militants from using it for infiltration. Their presence led to a significant reduction in militant activities on the lake.
  7. Kargil War (1999): MARCOS conducted covert operations behind enemy lines to support Indian Army operations during the Kargil conflict.
  8. Operation Black Tornado (2008): MARCOS were involved in flushing out remaining terrorists during the Mumbai attacks, helping bring the situation under control.

These operations highlight the courage and competence of MARCOS in addressing diverse challenges and threats.

Role & Purpose of MARCOS :-

The core missions of MARCOS include:

  1. Conducting covert attacks against enemy ships, offshore installations, and other critical assets located behind enemy lines.
  2. Supporting amphibious operations, including pre-assault operations.
  3. Carrying out surveillance and reconnaissance missions to aid naval operations.
  4. Performing clandestine diving operations.
  5. Combating terrorism in a maritime environment.

While initially established to carry out special operations in the maritime domain, such as amphibious warfare, the MARCOS have evolved to encompass a broader range of capabilities, including:

  1. Direct action.
  2. Counter-terrorism.
  3. Special reconnaissance.
  4. Unconventional warfare.
  5. Hostage rescue.
  6. Personnel recovery.
  7. Asymmetric warfare.
  8. Counter-proliferation.
  9. Anti-piracy operations.
  10. Safeguarding offshore energy assets, and more.

This evolution reflects their versatility and readiness to address a wide spectrum of security challenges.

MARCOS personnel are extensively trained as combat divers and are proficient in the use of mini-submersibles. While they excel in the maritime environment (the sea domain), they are also capable of operating in the other two domains, namely air and land.

These personnel receive specialized training to conduct parachute operations, enabling them to perform water and ground landings with full equipment. This training includes:

  1. HAHO (High Altitude and High Opening).
  2. HALO (High Altitude and Low Opening).

Their multifaceted training equips them to excel in diverse operational environments.

MARCOS Selection & Training

The application process for the Marine Commandos (MARCOS) is open to male volunteers exclusively from the Indian Navy. Applications from other branches of the military service are not accepted. Volunteers can include both commissioned officers and enlisted sailors.

Candidates typically undergo four phases to become fully qualified as Marine Commandos, which include:

  1. Phase 1: Pre-Selection.
  2. Phase 2: Selection.
  3. Phase 3: Initial Qualification Training (Basic Special Forces Training).
  4. Phase 4: Probation Period (Advanced Special Forces Training).

Various sources, like Bennett (2004), indicate that MARCOS candidates undertake a two-year course, with the initial phase lasting one month and subsequent training extending for nine months.

MARCOS Pre – Selection

The initial phase of the journey towards becoming a Marine Commando is known as pre-selection or enrolment, and it spans three days.

During this three-day process, a substantial attrition rate is expected, ranging from 50% to 80%.

For the fortunate few who successfully pass this phase, the next step involves participating in a grueling 5-week selection process that includes the challenging ‘Hell Week’.

MARCOS Selection

Candidates who successfully complete the pre-selection phase must now face the grueling selection process, which spans five weeks of demanding physical tasks and involves significant sleep deprivation.

During this phase, candidates may encounter a series of challenging tasks, including:

  1. Morning runs of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).
  2. Night marches of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) while carrying a 60 kg (132 lb) load.
  3. Training involving live ammunition.
  4. A weekly march of 120 kilometers (74.6 miles) while carrying a 60 kg (132 lb) load within a specified time limit.
  5. ‘Hell Week,’ modeled after the US Navy SEALs’ Hell Week:
    • A week of continuous training with over 20 hours of physical exertion each day.
    • Candidates are fortunate to receive more than 4 hours of sleep over the entire week.
    • At the week’s conclusion, candidates are expected to navigate through an 800-meter mud-filled route known as the ‘Death Crawl’ while carrying a 25 kg (55 lb) load.
    • Following this, they must complete a 2.5-kilometer (1.5 mile) obstacle course and then
    • Fire at a target, with a fellow candidate standing right beside it, from a distance of 25 meters.

These demanding tasks are designed to select the most resilient and capable individuals for the Marine Commandos.

MARCOS Basic SF Training

Candidates who successfully complete the selection process proceed to the initial qualification training, which comprises both basic Special Forces (SF) training and advanced SF training.

The training is conducted in collaboration with various organizations but is primarily overseen by INS Abhimanyu. Much of the training replicates elements from the US Navy SEALs, and assistance from the US Navy SEALs and British SAS was sought in the initial stages of training. The training includes:

  1. A 10-week basic SF training program held at INS Abhimanyu, which encompasses:
    • Weapons handling training.
    • Ammunition and explosives training.
    • Unarmed combat training.
    • Close quarters battle (CQB) training.
    • Kayaking.
    • Photography.
    • Ship intervention drills.
    • Hostage rescue.
    • Recapture of offshore installations.
  2. A 3-week Basic Parachute Course at the Indian Army’s Parachute Training School in Agra.
  3. A Basic Combat Divers course at the Indian Navy’s Dive School in Kochi.

Candidates who successfully complete these courses will progress to advanced SF training. This comprehensive training equips them with the necessary skills to excel as Marine Commandos.

MARCOS Advanced SF Training

The advanced SF training for MARCOS includes a probationary period that candidates must successfully complete. During this phase, candidates will join designated ‘Prahars’ for ‘on-the-job’ training.

Training during this period encompasses various critical skills, including:

  1. Combat free-fall training (HAHO and HALO), along with water-para jump (with full combat load) capability training.
  2. Counter-insurgency training at the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) in Mizoram.
  3. Anti-hijacking and anti-piracy techniques.
  4. Clandestine operations.
  5. Surveillance and reconnaissance methods.
  6. Amphibious operations, covering beach, coastal, and riverine environments.
  7. Unconventional warfare tactics.
  8. Language training (e.g., Arabic or Mandarin) for effective communication.
  9. Familiarity with the language and culture of potential adversary areas to enable operations and survival behind enemy lines.
  10. Training for operations from submarines and submersible craft.
  11. Sniper competency and training on shoulder-launched missiles, medium machine guns (MMGs), and more.
  12. Proficiency in constructing Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) using readily available items.
  13. Completion of a 4-week High Altitude Commando Course at the Parvat Ghatak School in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, alongside other Indian Special Forces units.
  14. Training at the Desert Warfare School in Rajasthan.

This rigorous and comprehensive training equips MARCOS personnel with a diverse skill set necessary for their elite role.

Upon completing the extensive and challenging training, candidates acquire the exceptional ability to handle firearms with remarkable precision. They can proficiently fire a weapon while standing, lying down, running at full sprint, moving backward, or even while looking into a mirror – all with a reputed reaction time of just 0.27 seconds.

Frequently Asked Questions :-

1: What is MARCOS and what is its role in the Indian military?

Answer: MARCOS, which stands for Marine Commandos, is a special forces unit of the Indian Navy. Their primary role is to conduct special operations in a maritime environment. MARCOS commandos are highly trained and skilled in various tasks, including counter-terrorism, covert reconnaissance, direct action, unconventional warfare, and other specialized missions. They play a crucial role in safeguarding India’s maritime interests, securing offshore installations, and countering threats in coastal and aquatic environments.

2: How can one join the MARCOS Commando unit in the Indian Navy?

Answer: Joining the MARCOS Commando unit is a challenging and highly selective process. Typically, candidates must first join the Indian Navy as sailors or officers. After some years of service and demonstrating exceptional physical and mental fitness, they can apply for MARCOS training. The selection process includes rigorous physical fitness tests, swimming and diving qualifications, and psychological evaluations. Once selected, candidates undergo an intense and specialized training program that includes combat diving, underwater demolition, counter-terrorism, and other relevant skills. Successful completion of the training program is required to become a MARCOS commando.

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