Green Berets Train With Indian Counter-Terror Commandos
We're starting to see this more often
U.S. Special Forces troops are in India wrapping up their first exercise with the country’s elite anti-terror commandos. Exercise Balanced Iroquois paired up American Green Berets and members of the Indian National Security Guard’s 51st Special Action Group for three weeks.
American elite troops already train with the Indian Army commandos as part of the annual Exercise Vajra Prahar, and regular troops from both countries train together during the annual Yudh Abhyas. But the recent partnership with the NSG is a sign of growing ties between the two nations in the realm of counter terror.
India and the U.S. have been cooperating extensively on counter-terrorist activities, as witnessed after the terror attack on a police station in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in July. By decoding the GPS captured from the terrorists, the FBI was able to track down that the terrorists started from Pakistan. Similarly, the Night Vision Device, captured from terrorists in Gurdaspur, was tracked down by the Pentagon as having been lost at a battlefield in Afghanistan.
The Indian government put together the NSG in 1984 as a response to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards. The killing was in retaliation for Operation Blue Star, the Indian Army’s June 1984 assault on the sacred Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar.
The organization is modeled after the elite German GSG 9 and have the nickname “Black Cat Commandos” for their distinctive black uniforms.
The NSG focuses on counter-terrorism, hostage rescue and bomb disposal — and is New Delhi’s go-to response force in worst case scenarios. The organization answers to India’s Ministry of Home Affairs and is staffed and led by a combination of police officers and deputized military personnel on loan from the Army.
The 51st Special Action Group was one of the lead units that responded to the 2008 Mumbai attacks. During the bloody terror assault, Islamist insurgents killed Maj. Sandeep Unnikrishnan, an Indian Army officer serving with the group. Since then, New Delhi has put an increasing emphasis on the commando groups as India continues to wrestle with insurgencies and terror groups both domestic and regional.
Just a month before Balanced Iroquois, Indian officers participating in Yudh Abhyas 2015 told War Is Boring that battling terrorism and regional instability were areas of cooperation they wanted to emphasize with their American counterparts.
It’s a partnership that’s already been somewhat active, as Indian intelligence aided the U.S.-led coalition as it fought the Taliban after 9/11.
That cooperation seems to be growing under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to the Express.
According to sources, Hawai-based Special Operations Command Pacific of the U.S. Army has been trying to engage NSG for the last 10 years but it is only since the arrival of Modi government that “things have started moving along.” The plans for this joint training were first mooted in 2013, and were further discussed during President Obama’s visit to India in January.
After the U.S. Special Forces and NSG troopers took part in “friendship jump” during Aero India at Bangalore in February, the discussions progressed at a fast pace. But this being the first instance of Home Ministry working with the Pentagon, the American side was faced with some problems pertaining to issue of visas for their soldiers.
The United States and India have no formal military alliance. But that doesn’t seem to be slowing the expansion of ties between the two countries’ special operations forces.