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The Garud Commando Force is the special forces unit of the Indian Air Force. It was formed in September 2004 and has a current strength of over 1500 personnel. The unit derives its name from Garuda, a divine bird-like creature of Hindu Mythology.
Garud is tasked with the protection of critical Air Force bases and installations; search and rescue during peace and hostilities and disaster relief during calamities. Presently, Garuds are deployed in Congo as part of the UN peace keeping operations.
Garuds have diverse responsibilities. Besides base protection force to protect airfields and key assets in hostile environments, some advanced Garud units are trained like Army Para Commandos and the Naval MARCOS to undertake missions deep behind enemy lines. Note, that the security of IAF installations like radars, airfields and other establishments in border areas is generally performed by the Air Force Police and the Defence Security Corps (DSC).
Unlike its counterparts in the Army and Navy, candidates for Garud Commandos are not selected from volunteers of other branches. Recruitment to the Garuds is done directly through airmen selection centers via advertisements.
Candidates found eligible for the force are put through a process of rigorous physical training. Candidates have only one chance to become a Garud trainee. Once a recruit completes training and meets required standards, he is absorbed into the Commando force and is retained in this stream throughout his career.
Wherever he is posted in the IAF, he will be part of a Garud Unit. This approach ensures that the Commando Force retains its highly trained men all through their career with the IAF.
The first batch of Officers for the Garuds were volunteers from the Cadets of the Ground Duty Officers course being trained at the Air Force Academy, Dundigal, Telangana. These officers on successful completion have been absorbed into Garud Force and will be permanently assigned to the force till the point they reach senior ranks and go for higher postings.
Garuds have been decorated with 1 Ashok Chakra, 4 Shaurya Chakras and many Vayu Sena Medals. Garud Commando Jyoti Prakash Nirala was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously in 2018 for his actions in Jammu and Kashmir.
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