Being a part of the Indian Army is a source of great pride and distinction. Every year, countless individuals aspire to join our nation's defense forces. Since 1966, the Para Commandos have stood as the most significant and vital component of the Indian Army's Special Forces.
Specifically, we're discussing Para Commando Officers in this blog to guide those considering a career in this esteemed role.
Para Commando Officers
Para Commando Officers are integral members of the defense forces, entrusted with specialized missions such as direct action, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, and unconventional warfare.
The Parachute Regiment, comprising PARA and PARA (SF) battalions, represents the elite volunteer force within the Indian Army. Currently, this regiment encompasses nine special forces, three special forces (airborne), two Territorial Army, and one Counter-Insurgency (Rashtriya Rifles) battalions.
Given their pivotal responsibilities, the regiment prioritizes maintaining peak efficiency and physical fitness. Consequently, the path to becoming a Para Commando Officer is both challenging and immensely rewarding.
Para Commando Officer Selection Process
To become a Para Commando Officer, individuals can follow a direct recruitment path into the Special Forces or transfer from regular army units. Candidates undergo a probationary period of three months for Paratroopers (Airborne) Battalions (5, 6, 7, 23, 29) and six months for Para (Special Forces) battalions (1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 21 PARA).
The selection of motivated soldiers for Para Commando forces involves rigorous physical fitness and written tests. The board of officers conducts these assessments during the ARO station's Pre-Recruit Training Course (PRTC). Candidates who successfully meet the eligibility criteria, achieving 100% marks in Physical Fitness tests and 50% marks in the Written Test while ranking in merit, can join the PARA Regt offered by AROs just before their deployment.
Those who choose to join the PARA Regt will undergo additional screening tests for selection. If these volunteer candidates fail to qualify in the special screening tests for the PARA Regiment, they are assured of returning to their initially allocated Parent Regt.
To pursue a career as a Para Commando officer in India, candidates must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Vacancies are open exclusively to male candidates.
- Applicants must be between 18 and 23 years old.
- Minimum height requirements are 157 cm (5.1 feet) for the Army and Navy and 162.5 cm for the Air Force.
- Educational qualifications include passing the 10th and 12th standards.
- Candidates must have at least 2 years of experience working in the Indian Army after passing the rally examination.
Recruitment Through the Army
To understand the path to becoming a Para Commando Officer, knowing the requisite tests and processes is essential. Initially, all personnel must qualify as Paratroopers, and from there, eligible candidates may choose to progress to SF (Special Forces) selection. The SF selection occurs twice a year, in the spring and autumn. To embark on this journey and eventually become a Para Commando, individuals first need to join the Indian Defense as officers. This can be achieved through various exams, including:
- NDA Exam (National Defence Academy)
- CDS Exam (Indian Military Academy)
- CDS Exam (Officers Training Academy)
NDA cadets interested in any of the three wings should proceed to the respective wings after their NDA training. Volunteer Gentlemen Cadets from the Indian Military Academy/Officers Training Academy will be commissioned, with two officers assigned per battalion per year. These officers will be allotted a parent regiment by the MS Branch.
For officers already serving in any Arms and Services who wish to volunteer for the Parachute Regiment, they must have fewer than five years of service when volunteering, possess SHAPE-I medical category status, and be graded as 'EXCELLENT' in BPET (Basic Physical Efficiency Test). These officers will remain affiliated with their Regiment/Corps as their parent regiment.
Para SF Commando's paratroopers undergo a 3-month training program, while training for Para Commando Special Forces lasts 6 months. The overall training duration for Para Commando Special Forces encompasses 9 months.
Probation Period During PARA Special Force Selection
All ranks, including Officers and PBOR (Personnel Below Officer Rank), volunteering for the Parachute Regiment will undergo probation in their respective units, as follows:
PARA Battalions: 90 days
PARA (SF) Battalions: 180 days, which includes continuation training.
Those who do not qualify during probation will revert to their parent regiment.
Parachute Jump Training
Upon probation, all ranks will undertake a Para Basic course at PTS (Paratrooper Training School), Air Force, Agra. Successful completion of this course leads to permanent absorption in the Parachute Regiment. Individuals not volunteering for parachute jumping will return to their parent regiments.
Following a successful probationary period, the PARA/ PARA (SF) battalions initiate the process for the permanent absorption of individuals through the Parachute Regiment Record Office. All relevant documents are forwarded accordingly by the unit/Record Office to the Parachute Regiment Record Office.
Training of a Para Commando
The training regimen for a Para SF Commando is rigorous. It commences with a daily 20-kilometer run while carrying a weight of 60 to 65 kg. Those trained at the Air Force Training School in Agra must complete 50 jumps from 33,000 feet.
Para SF Commandos also undergo water combat training at the Naval Driving Training School in Kochi. They receive comprehensive weapons training and are adept in parachute usage, including the correct procedures for timely deployment. This training involves two parachutes weighing 15 kg and 5 kg, respectively.