Pakistan Army SSG Commandos

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This article is about the Pakistan Army's special operations force. For the Pakistan Navy's special force of the same name, see Special Service Group (Navy).

Special Service Active March 1956–present Country Pakistan Branch Pakistan Army Type Special operations Role

Size Classified Part of Army Strategic Forces Command Headquarters CheratKhyber Pakhtunkhwa[1]Nickname(s)Maroon Berets, Black Storks Motto (s)Urdu: من جاں بازم‎, lit. 'I am valiant'Colours Maroonsky blue
  Engagements See list[show]Website Pakistan Army

The Army Service Group member performing combat airborne landing in Northern Pakistan.

The Pakistan Army Special Service Group (SSG),[2][3] also known as the "Maroon Berets" due to their distinctive headgear,[4] is a special operations force of the Pakistan Army that is responsible to deploy and execute five doctrinal missions: foreign internal defensereconnaissancedirect actioncounter-terrorism operations, and unconventional warfare.[2]

Other operational roles and responsibilities attributed to the SSG include: search and rescuecounter-proliferationsearch and destroyhostage rescueinformation operationspeacekeeping missionspsychological operations, security assistance, and HVT manhunts.[5]

Chain of command and control of the SSG falls within the domain of the Pakistan Army's Strategic Forces Command (ASFC), and its personnel are directly recruited into the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)'s counter-terrorism division upon their retirements.[5] Much of the SSG's activities and operations are shrouded in secrecy and public knowledge of their work is heavily controlled through selective declassified documents and published literary works by retired military veterans or authorized media.[5]



Roots of establishment[edit]

Main article: Frontier Force Regiment

The vintage and classical Arm's SSG Insignia.

In 1950, the Pakistan Army established the school, Close Quarter Battle School, dedicated for teaching the methods of close quarters combat under Colonel Grant Taylor of the British Army in QuettaBalochistan in Pakistan– the school was later moved to Attack under Colonel Kahoon, also an officer in the British Army.[6] Citing unknown and unspecified reasons, the Close Quarter Battle School under Col. Kahoon was permanently closed and its passed out personnel who had earlier formed the 312th Garrison Company (312 Gar Coy (FF)), a light infantry, initially attached the military unit to the Frontier Force Regiment (FF Regiment) in 1952— the 312 Gar Coy (FF) still remains to be a part of the Frontier Force Regiment.[6]

Creation from the 19th Regiment[edit]

Main articles: Baloch Regiment19th BalochPakistan-United States military relations, and International Military Education and Training

The Army SSG specialist, in U.S. Woodland uniform, performing the Mountain warfare course in a demonstration being performed for the Russian Spetnaz in 2016.

In 1953–54, the United States Army raised a special forces unit within the Pakistan Army to provide intelligence and combat defense against Soviet Union's expanding sphere of influence in the Central Asia.:contents[7] The U.S. assistance helped raise the special forces unit from the simple infantry regiment, the 19th Baloch, that provided an ideal cover from its covert nature of works.:contents[7] In 1955, the 17th Baloch infantry was incorporated with the 19th Baloch, followed by the special forces training began to conduct under Lt Col. Dean F. Bundy from the Special Forces of the United States Army.[6]

On 23 March 1956, the Special Service Group (SSG) was established as a Battalion under the command of its first commanding officerLieutenant-Colonel A. O. Mitha, after founding the School of Special Operations[permanent dead link] (SSO) under the advisement of army officers from the U.S. Army's Special Forces.:contents[7][8][9][3][10] The Special Service Group's institution and the physical training remained under the command of Lt-Col. Mitha until 1961–62.[11] The headquarter of the Army Special Service Group was then based out in CheratKhyber-Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan.[6]

Initially, the SSG were popular as the Green Berets with Baloch insignia in 1950s, but SSG dropped their green berets in favor of adopting the Baloch Regiment's maroon berets– hence giving them the nickname the Maroon Berets.[citation needed] In 1964, the Parachute Training School (PTS) was established under the watchful guidance of 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, and training on the desert warfare with U.S. Special Forces' Mobile Training Team begin, followed by the Navy SSG established by the U.S. Navy SEALs as a deep diving team, which was known for its physical training in Karachi in 1966–70.:70[12]

In 1970, the Musa Company was established that solely specialized in anti-terrorist operations, receiving training from the British SAS advisers after U.S. had suspended the IMET program with Pakistan in 1981.:70

The Army SSG initially had six battalions and each battalion had specialization units, specialized in the different war spectrum: desertmountainlong-distance ranger, and deep diving warfare.[10] In August 1965, the operational scope of the Army SSG was expanded from a battalion-size to larger special operation outfit.[10] In 1968–70, the Pakistan Army integrated the Chinese introduced physical training, tactics, weapons, and equipment.[10]

Deployments and covert operations[edit]

Covert actions, Indo-Pakistani wars, and overseas missions[edit]

Main articles: Indo-Pakistani war of 1965Operation GibraltarBangladesh Liberation War, and Indo-Pakistani war of 1965

The Kashmir Valley in 1965: The Army Special Service Group teams were successful in their infiltration mission in 1964 but the plan failed when the Indian Spies alerted the Indian agencies of this expedition, resulting India mounting an invasion on Pakistan in 1965.:53[13]

The first war time deployment of the Army Special Service Group took place in 1960 with their first special reconnaissance mission in the former tribal belt near the porous Durand Line– the Afghanistan-Pakistan's line of international border.[11] In 1960–61, the Army Special Forces team under Major Mirza Aslam Beg had successfully inserted in Dir and took control of the law and order situation be removing the instigating Nawab of Dir in Chitral in North-West Frontier Province.[14]

In 1964–65, the teams of Special Service Group successfully executed the covert operation in Indian-administered Kashmir but the operation failed from the very beginning due to lack of understanding of the local culture and language, eventually met with hostility with locals who alerted the Indian government authorities.:53[13][15]

The second war with India saw the testing and shaping of the Army Special Service Group when the Indian Army charged and invaded the Pakistan-side of Punjab in response to the covert actions took place in Indian Kashmir. The airborne missions of the Army Special Service Group included performing the combat parachuting at the Indian airbases with an intention of launching a ground assaults in the Indian Air Force's air stations in PathankotAdampur, and the Halwara.:contents[16] Boarded on a Pakistan Air Force's C-130 Hercules, the three airborne formations were flown detected on the night of 7 September 1965, first performing combat jumping at Pathankot at 02:30 hours but the wind velocity led the scattered of the team and caused them to launch an unorganized attacks on the Pathankot Air Force Station.

By 1970–71, the Pakistan Army had permanently posted one Army Special Service Group 3rd Commando Battalion in East-Pakistan under Lt-Col. Tariq Mehmood, begin working with local authorities in maintaining security situation in the East-Pakistan, near the border of Eastern India.:244[17] The performance of the Army Special Service Group was reported to be much better than their performance in 1965, with 1st Command Battalion (Yaldram) and 2nd Commando Battalion (Rahber) engaged in several of their successful sabotage missions against the Indian Army's artillery and infantry regiments, while the 3rd Command Battalion in East oriented towards successfully engaging in the seek and destroy missions.:contentes[7][10] Their final mission included the mounting of the successful defense of the Shahjalal International Airport against the Indian Army-backed Mukti Bahini, and were the last army special forces formation that had departed from the airport before the Dacca fall to India on 16 December 1971.:78:130[18]

From 1972–77, the Pakistan Army went into reorganization and major restructuring of its combat services but the Army Special Service Group remained active in successfully tackling the armed insurgency in Balochistan in Pakistan.:10[19]

War in Afghanistan and Sri Lankan civil war[edit]

Main articles: Soviet–Afghan War and Sri Lankan Civil War

In 1979–89, the Army Special Service Group had been seconded in covert actions in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union's armed intervention.[citation needed] There have been unconfirmed reports of the Army Special Service Group engaging in armed battles with the Soviet paratroopers in incidents including the Battle for Hill 3234 and the Operation Magistral.[20][21]

When the Battle for Hill 3234 concluded, the Soviet paratroopers founded that the Afghan mujaheddin actually wore the black uniforms with rectangular black-yellow-red stripes, and suspected to be Army Special Service Group personnel; Pakistan's government has officially denied their involvement. The American author, Aukai Collins, identified the elements as "Black Storks" who crossed the border to join the Afghan mujahideen – a claim also backed by American author, David Campbell.:60–61[22] Another battle was taken place between the Soviet paratroopers and the Afghan mujahideen in Kunar in 1986 that suspected the Army Special Service Group's involvement but the Russians dismissed the claim and noted that the battle was fought between the GRU's 15th Spetsnaz Brigade and Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf's group.[23]

In 1980s, the Pakistani government had dispatched the units of the Army Special Service Group to the Sri Lankan Army to advise in the Sri Lankan civil war with the LTTE group in Sri Lanka.[citation needed] During their deployment in the Sri Lankan civil war, The Army Special Service Group provided extensive training to Sri Lanka Army Special Forces and the Sri Lanka Army Commando Regiment on Jungle warfare and provided them the airborne training.[citation needed]

Siachen, Kargil, and War on Terror in Afghanistan[edit]

Main articles: Siachen conflictKargil war, and War in Afghanistan (2001–present)

The Siachen Glacier in Pakistan. According to the medical reports by Medical Corps, the death ratio of Pakistan Army soldiers is mostly due to the zero temperature and lack of oxygen than then enemy contact with India's Para Commandos, which is mostly deployed at the much warmer areas nearing Leh district.[24]

When the Indian Army's successful expedition took control of the Siachen glacier from Pakistan, the ISI's Covert Action Division (CAD) inserted in the region, confirming the intrusion and movement of Indian Army soldiers in 1983.:75[25] The Army Special Service Group was immediately deployed to engage in the armed battle with the Indian Army at 20,000 feet (6,100 m) above sea level.[26] Led by Captain Muhammad Iqbal, the only 12-men Army Special Service team had to hiked at the 19,000 feet (5,800 m) to reach the Indian Army's resting camp.:83[27] Battle with Indian army ensued and special service group commandos lost the battle and had to retreat to lower heights of Siachen glacier, giving Indians one of the first victories in Siachen Glacier battle ground:85[28]

Over the years, the Army Special Service Group have not developed expertise in high altitude warfare, but are regularly deployed in Siachen.:18[29] Army Special Service Group activities included the hike towards the mountains in Kargil in 1999 but the Indian Army soon discovered Infantry regiments movements resulting in another massive assault on Pakistan that resulted in defeat of Pakistani forces.:78–79[25]

Since 2001, the Army Special Forces have been engaged in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and remote areas in areas adjacent to Afghanistan—their notable antiterror operation included the successful clearance of the Red Mosque in Islamabad from al-Qaeda sympathizers.[30] The Army Special Forces teams also taken parts in raiding and attacking the terrorists elements in near border with Afghanistan, working often with U.S. Army's Special Forces in Afghanistan.[31]

In 2014, the Army Special Service Group reportedly successful in their manhunt operation after targeting and killing Adnan Gulshair, a Saudi citizen known as the Global Operations Chief of al-Qaeda. In January 2013, India accused Pakistan that Army Special Service Group led an attack across the Line of Control in which Indian soldiers were killed and beheaded.[32][33]

Later in August 2013, a patrol of five Indian soldiers were killed 450 metres inside Indian territory, which India also believes was an sniper action by the Army Special Service Group.[34][35] These raids are part of cross border raids launched by both sides.

Organizational structure[edit]

The Army's SSG Insignia outside SSG garrison and former headquarters at Cherat.

Due to their selection competitiveness, demanding military physicals, and commitment required per standard of the Army's Special Forces, the Special Service Group was restricted to the Brigade level until June 2003.[2] On 14 June 2003, the major reorganization in the structure of the Army Special Service Group took place when the special forces were moved as a military division with Major-General A. F. Alvi becoming the first general officer commanding (GOC).[2]

In an official documentary recognized and known structure of the Army Special Service Group given in YouTube is given below:

Army SSG Divisional HeadquartersIqbal Buland  Company Musa Company Parachute Training School Special Operation School Tarbela Brigade 

3 Commando Battalion Powindahs


Zarrar Company


8 Commando Battalion (Al-Azb)

 Special Operation Task Force (SOTF)Brigade HQ in Cherat 

5 Commando Battalion (Zilzaal)


6 Commando Battalion (Al-Samsaam)


7 Commando Battalion (Babrum)

Name not given in Documentary 11 SS Brigade HQ in Attock 

1 Commando Battalion (Yaldram)


2 Commando Battalion (Rahber)


4 Commando Battalion (Yalghar)

  Official Source only available in Urdu

Notes: Source of officially recognized and known structure of the Army Special Service Group given in YouTube.[2]

The early organizational structure of the Army's Special Service Group was initially based on the regimental system, with three battalions specialized in the military divingairbornemountain warfare techniques.:100:100[2][36] After the third war with India in 1971, the Army Special Service Group was expanded with the eight battalions that specialized in their own set of war course of actions–each battalions is specialized in their criterion of war and are considered specialists in their fields.[2]

The headquarter of the Army Special Service Group was based in Cherat where the special forces schools are located but this changed with the brigade combat teams (BCTs) being deployed in different parts of the country.[1] The operational responsibility of the special operations conducted by the Army Special Service Group, nonetheless, falls under the command of the Army Strategic Forces Command (ASFC) operating from the Army GHQ in Rawalpindi, along with the Army Rangers and Strategic Plans Division Force–the CBRN defense team.[2]

Battalions in the Special Forces[edit]

Main article: Battalions

The Pakistan Army soldiers saluting during the tactical exercise with Russian Ground Forces, wearing their maroon berets for which they are popular for.

The Special Service Group is organized in eight battalions and three companies– all trained and specialists in the specific type of war operations.[2] In common practice and military formation, the Battalions typically consists of between ~300–800 personnel, but the department of army has never issued an actual strength number of its personnel serving in the battalions in the special forces.:contents[16] The official strength number of serving personnel in each battalions is subjected to the classified information.[37]

In Pakistan Army, the Special Forces battalions are typically commanded by the lieutenant-colonels (varies, and depends on availability), and the battalions are organized into the groups under the command of the serving colonels.[citation needed] The command of the Army's Special Service Group (Army SSG) is under the command of the Major-General whose identity is also kept in secrecy, alongside with other army personnel, citing security.[37]

SSG Battalions Call Sign Headquarters Detail 1st Commando Battalion Yaldram Attock Headquartered with the 11 SS Brigade HQ in Attock, Punjab in Pakistan, along with 2nd and 4th Commando Battalions. The 1st Commando Battalion (Yaldram) is an airborne unit and its known for its ability and capability of remarkably performing the HAHO/HALO parachuting techniques.:77[46]2nd Commando Battalion Rahber Attock Headquartered with the 11 SS Brigade HQ in Attock, Punjab in Pakistan, along with 2nd and 4th Commando Battalions. The 2 Commando Battalion (Rahber) is known for its theoretically oriented in the desert warfare.:77[46]3rd Commando Battalion Powindahs Tarbela Headquartered in Tarbela, along with 8th Commando Battalion and Zarrar Company. The 3 Commando Battalion (Powindas) are oriented towards the high-altitude mountain warfare in Kashmir.:77[46]4th Commando Battalion Yalghar 5th Commando Battalion Zilzaal 6th Commando Battalional-Samsaam 7th Commando Battalion Babrum 8th Commando Battalional-Azb

Pak Army SSG Companies Call Sign Headquarters Details Zarrar Company Seek and Destroy Zarrar is Special Service Group's elite counter terrorist unit. Zarrar operators qualify after specialized training in counter-terrorism tactics, hostage rescue,intelligence recon,sabotage and other high risk operations. Zarrar is SSG's equivalent of Russian FSB's Alpha Grupa and Israeli Shayetet 13.[47] SOCU Company SOCU Special Operation & Communication Unit. Zarrar can,t operate without SOCU Iqbal Buland Company Highly Praised Oriented towards the SIGNIT and ELINT in signals and telecommunications.[47]Musa Company Moses Oriented towards the army's frogman to perform underwater demolition–secondary role in counterterrorism on seaborne actions with Navy.[12]Rangers Anti-Terrorist Force RAFT The Army Rangers Oriented towards its primary role in counterterrorism and high risk hostage rescue.[48]

Sources:Sharma, Rajeev (1999). Pakistan's Proxy War: A Story of ISI, Bin Laden and Kargil. New Delhi, India: Kaveri Book Service. p. 223. ISBN 9788174790354.. For a description of the modern special forces, see: global context of the Special forces.

Selection and training[edit]

Qualifications and physicals[edit]

Main articles: SportsmanshipPhysical fitness, and Mental fitness

An Army SSG soldier performing descent during the mountain warfare course demonstrated for the Russian Ground Forces in 2016.

The Army specialist recruiter teams usually visit the different headquarters of the army's formation, distributing the pamphlets to the officers at OF-1 rank and enlisted personnel.[6] The military physical standards, examinations, and criteria is same for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines' special forces selections and training, often training in close coordination.[38]

The Navy Special Service Group (SSGN) plays an important role in the overall architecture of the special operations forces, their qualification standards, fitness at all levels, and eligibility required for the security clearances.:100[36]

There are three schools that the overall basic eligibility requirements to be considered for entry into the schools of the Special Forces are:

  • Special Operations School (Spec Ops.)

    • Be age of  25–39.[6]

    • Be a citizen of Pakistan.[6]

    • Must be Volunteered, not coerced.[38]

    • Minimum of 5 Years of military service.[38]

    • Must pass the Physical Fitness Assessment with at least 40 push-ups in one minute, 40 sit-ups in one minute, 15 pull-ups, and be able to run 1.6 kilometers in a minimum of 7:30.[38]

    • Meet medical fitness standards as outlined in Medical Category TV.[38]

    • Eligible for a secret security clearance.[38]

    • Must have 20/20 or corrected to 20/20 in both near and distant vision in both eyes.[6]

    • Should be able to swim 30 meters in full service uniform with weapon, the standard rifleKoch G3A3.[38]

  • Sniper School

    • Must have 20/20 or corrected to 20/20 in both near and distant vision in both eyes.[6]

    • Medical Category "A".[38]

  • Frogman School

    • Medical Category "A".[38]

    • Must have qualification in Chamber test up to 180 feet sea water.[38]

  • Swimming Standards

    • Should be able to swim 200 meters in 7 minutes (breast stroke).[38]

    • Should be able to swim 25 meters Underwater.[38]

Selection and training[edit]

Main article: Special forces selection in Pakistan Armed Forces and Special Warfare and skills schools

The Army SSG personnel preparing the mountain hike and survival skill sets in a demonstration being performed to the Russian Ground Forces's Spetsnaz in 2016.

The medical standards in various physical courses into the entrance in the Special Forces in Pakistan maintained to be very high and extremely competitive, resulting in a major dropouts at the very early stage of selection, according to the Pakistan Army's official report in 2013.:85[38][39] The Pakistan Army's Medical Corps keeps the qualification and selections standards difficult and competitive in the Pakistani military to only ensure that the suitable and qualified intakes in the Special Forces in the Pakistan military as the special forces cannot be mass-produced nor it can arise in the extenuating situations.[38]

Prior to joining the Special Service Group, the interested junior army officers (usually at OF-1 and OF-2) and enlisted personnel must have spent their committed military careers for at least five years and must be volunteered to join the Special Service Group.[38] Once selected through successfully undergoing through the medical evaluation, the interested personnel must report to the Parachute Training School in Peshawar to volunteer for the airborne training, and must get the airborne qualification badge from the airborne training school.[6] The airborne training course held for four weeks where the interested personnel must excelled the HALO/HAHO methods with five-day jumps and three-night military free fall.[citation needed]

After gaining their airborne qualification badge, the army personnel then reports to Cherat from Peshawar– a nominal distance between two cities is approximated between 62.9 kilometers (39.1 mi)[40]– engage through this journey by the foot while wearing their full military gear (30 kilograms).[6] The interested individual must undergoes a 24-week of military training and training process once reported to Cherat.:85–86[39]

The training courses in the Special Service Group emphasis strong physical conditioning and mental fitness, including the everyday based surprised strategic thinking quiz[6] and a 36-mile march in 12 hours.[41] Violation of the military code and ethics by the trainee soldier resulted in including the 9.3 kilometers (5.8 mi) march from Cherat to Chapri with full 36 pounds (16 kg) military gear.[6]

The curriculum of the basic military training course included the mastery in Judo and Karateka, special weapons training, military navigation, and handling and disarming of the chemical explosives, survival skill training.[6] There are schools of special warfare that the trainee soldier chooses: Snow and High Altitude School, Mountain Warfare School, Airborne Warfare School, Desert Warfare School, Sniper School, and Frogman School.[citation needed] These schools offers the advanced training courses which runs for additional 25–30 weeks (depending on student's choosing of his career), and only successfully passed out personnel are awarded with badges of their specialized fields by their specialized school faculty.[6] The dropout rates of Special Service Group(Army) is 85 to 90 Percent because of extremely tough training process. Every year, thousands of Applicants apply to join the SSG but at the end, maximum of 100 to 120 cadets get their recommendation letter for Special Service Group. The army personnel interested in the underwater demolition must be trained with their Navy counterparts in Manora Island in the Karachi coast including being qualified to get their long-range swimming qualification badge from the Naval authorities.[42]

The Special Service Group criteria meets special forces training and selection criteria of the United States Army, and Special Service Group's personnel are regularly send to the United States to collaborate with the American Special Forces personnel for further training in special warfare and tactics.[citation needed]

Interaction with other special forces[edit]

Main articles: United States-Pakistan military relationsChina–Pakistan relationsPakistan–Russia relationsPakistan–Turkey relations, and Pakistan's military assistance to Sri Lanka

U.S. Army's airborne specialist interacting with the Army SSG airborne trooper for the airborne mission training in Egypt in 2009.

Since its establishment in 1956, the Army Special Service Group have been regularly interacted and trained together with the United States Army Special Forces–though the Pakistan Army's infantry branch had first participated in Exercise Vulcan and Exercise Handicap in 1954.[6]:14[43] Besides training and the interaction with the United States Army, Pakistan Army Special Service Group have held joint special warfare training exercises with the Special Air Service (SAS) of the British ArmySpecial Forces Command of the Turkish Land ForcesSpecial Operation Forces of the Royal Jordanian Army, the Special Operation Forces of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Ground Forces, and the Spetsnaz of the Russian Ground Forces.[42]

For their overseas deployment for the purpose of the education and training, the Special Service Group have been deployed in BangladeshSaudi ArabiaSri LankaBahrainMaldivesUnited Arab EmiratesTurkmenistanEgyptJapan, and Iraq where its operatives have overseen the friendly nations special forces programs.[42]

Since 1998, the Army Special Service Group biannually conducts the military exercise with the Turkish Land Forces's Special Forces, which have been designated as the "Jinnah–Atatürk Series."[44] The military exercise held in Pakistan is known as "Atatürk Exercise" while in Turkey, it is known as "Jinnah Exercise."[44] The first of these series of exercise were held in Pakistan, with twenty-one Turkish Land Forces officers and fourteen enlists coming to Pakistan for the exercise– Pakistan reciprocated the visit in 2000.[44] The Jinnah-Atatürk Series are oriented and focused towards the snow, high-altitude, and mountain warfare."[44]

With renewed military relations with the United States Army in 1990s, the Army Special Service Group conducted several military exercises with the United States Army Special Forces (SF), known as the "Exercise Inspired Venture/Gambit", with first being held in 1993.[45] The Exercise Inspired Venture/Gambit is oriented and directed towards focusing on special weapon familiarization, mountain warfare, night time assaults, air assault techniques in counter-terrorism measures.[45]

Since 2006, the Army Special Service Group also conducts training with the People's Liberation Army Ground Forces Special Operation Forces, which is known as the Pakistan-China Joint Exercise Friendship– this exercise is oriented towards tackling insurgencies and improving methods in counterterrorism.[46] In 2008–09, the Army Special Service Group, together with the United States Army Special Forces, participated in the multinational security exercise, the Operation Bright Star, held in Alexandria in Egypt in 2009 to train with the Thunderbolt Forces of the Egyptian Army.[6]

In 2016, the Army Special Service Group conducted the annual military exercise with the Russian Ground ForcesSpetsnaz–the Russo-Pakistani military exercise is known as Druzhba (lit. Friendship).[47] The Druzhba with Russian Spetsnaz are oriented and focused towards mountain warfare and tactics in counterterrorism in taking out and eliminating the terrorist organizations with first being held in 2016 and the recent being held in 2018.[48]


Counter terrorism operations timeline[edit]

The Special Operation Forces School in Cherat with the Russian Flag waving.

  • In September 1986Pan Am Flight 73 was hijacked by terrorists while it was refueling in Karachi. As negotiations stalled and the terrorists started to kill passengers, SSG stormed the plane. The SSG killed one hijacker and captured the rest.[citation needed]

  • In February 1994Afghan hijackers took over a school bus with 74 children and 8 teachers. They drove to the Afghan mission in Islamabad where they released 57 students but kept 16 boys and the teachers. The negotiations led nowhere and it was decided to free the hostages by force. The Pakistani authorities had somehow managed to inform the children of the impending raid.[49] The SSG commandos used a secondary explosion as a distraction and entered the room at the Afghan embassy where the hostages were being held, killing the three hijackers.[citation needed] The operation lasted about 20 seconds.[50]

  • In May 1998, three terrorists took over a PIA Fokker plane. As negotiations dragged, SSG commandos rushed the plane and apprehended all 3 hijackers. None of the passengers were harmed during the assault.[51][52]

  • On 30 March 2009, SSG successfully participated in thwarting the 2009 Lahore police academy attacks.[53][54]

  • On 10 October 2009militants attacked the Pakistan Military Headquarters, taking hostage 42 civil and military officials. SSG commandos rescued 39 hostages and killed 9 militants, capturing one. The militants have been linked to Ilyas Kashmiri being a leading Al Qaeda commander operating alongside Tehrik-e-Taliban. A total of six SSG commandos and three hostages were killed in the operation. As reported by ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations) [1]. The operation was undertaken by SSG's Counter-Terrorism Force.[55] Three more SSG commandos, injured during the operation, died in the hospital on 12 October.[56]

  • On 16 December 2014, SSG Commandos from the Zarrar Company were tasked with clearing an Army Public School which was raided by seven[57] Tahreek-e-Taliban (TTP) Terrorists in Peshawar. All Terrorists were eliminated and the school was cleared. Around 149 people, mostly Students aged between 12-16 were killed by the Terrorists. The school had a strength of about 1000, and due to SSG timely arrival, they were able to rescue about 840 peoples.[58]

Notable members[edit]

Notable members of the Army Special Service Group[hide]

Name and Members Portrait Notes Rank Notes on Credentials Pervez Musharraf General The President of Pakistan (2001–2008), the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (1998–2001), the Chief of Army Staff (1998–2007).Mirza Aslam Beg General The Chief of Army Staff (1998–91).Tariq Mehmood Brigadier Headed the Brigade Combat Team specialized in Airborne missions. Haroon Islam Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding officer of the Operation Silence and lead a counterterrorism team. Shamim Allam General The Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (1991–1994)A. F. Alvi Major-General First GOC of the Army Special Service Group.

Appearance and equipment[edit]

Uniforms and insignia[edit]

Main article: U.S. Woodland

The U.S. M81 colors with Maroon berets is the standard uniform for the Army Special Service Group's Battle Dress Uniform as seen worn by the officers in 2017.

In the 1970s, the Army Special Service Group Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) was standard Khaki but this was changed to British-styled DPM.[2] In the 1990s, the Battle Dress Uniform was changed in favor of adopting the U.S. woodland (or M81) with a maroon berets, a common color for the airborne forces, with a silver metal tab on a light blue felt square with a dagger and lightning bolts, and a wing on the right side of the chest.:100[36]

The counterterrorism teams, on the other hand, include camouflage and black dungarees (for the CT team).[2]

SSGN (SSG Navy) is distinguished by a dark blue beret with three versions of the "fouled anchor" navy badge for officers, NCOs and enlisted men. A metal SSGN qualification badge featuring a vertical dagger superimposed over a midget submarine is worn over the left pocket on dress uniforms. Parachute wings are worn over the right pocket.

The SSW (Special Service Wing) is distinguished by maroon berets with PAF Officer, JCO or Airmen insignia on the beret, and a wing on the right side of the chest. The combat uniform of SSW is olive drab camouflage. They also wear their special service wing insignia on the left shoulder "Winged Dragons and lightning bolts".


SSG troop with an M4 carbine.

The U.S.-built M4 carbine rifle— This is the standard issue rifle for the Army Special Service Group.

The Austrian-designed Steyr AUG assault rifle is standard issue for the counterterrorism teams.

The standard issue for the Army SSG snipers is the U.S.-built Barrett M82 sniper rifle. Often in competition with the POF PSR-90M used by the Navy snipers in SEAL Team of the Navy SSG.


Submachine guns

Assault rifles

Sniper rifles

Heavy Armament

Influence on the Inter-services branches[edit]

Main articles: 1st Marines Battalion (Pakistan)Special Service Group (Navy)Special Service WingPakistan Army RangersDolphin Force, and Elite Police

The Navy Special Service Group badge.

The Air Force Special Service Wing badge.

The Marines Special Service Group badge.

Special Operations Forces in Pakistan's four tier military branches

After the second war with India in 1965, the Army Special Service Group had established its personnel physical fitness leading the Pakistan Navy to recognize the need of the special operation force but it had little experience and tradition in the military scuba diving as well as had little understanding towards the nature of the seaborne special operations.:contents[4] In 1966, the Army Special Service Group helped raise the military diving division within the Navy from its frogman team— the Musa Company that remains to be part the Army Special Service Group for inland riverine operations.:contents[4]

Introduction and instructions on combat scuba diving and basic training were provided by the personnel from the Musa Company before the Navy Special Service Group moved towards getting trained with the U.S. Navy's United States Navy SEALs.:contents[4] Over the several years, the Navy dependent on the Army to provide training to their Navy SEAL Teams in the Navy Special Service Group on education and training on the combat parachuting, sniper marksmanship, counterterrorism, and counterinsurgency.:contents[4]

Eventually, the Navy established their own schools on combat parachuting, sniping, counterterrorism, and the counterinsurgency but these schools are influenced and modeled after the Army's Special Service Group training methods whose instructors are the alumnus of the Army schools of special operation forces who tightly followed the army's philosophy, physical standards, and education.:contents[4]

The personnel of the Navy SEAL Teams in the Navy Special Service Group adopted to wear the Army Special Service Group U.S. Woodland (M81) Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) with the distinction of the dark blue beret with three versions of the "fouled anchor" with a navy badge (as shown in the footage) and a metal SSGN qualification badge featuring a vertical dagger superimposed over a midget submarine is worn over the left pocket on dress uniforms; parachute wings are worn over the right pocket.:contents[4]

In 1965, the Pakistan Air Force had a special operation force established: the Special Service Wing under Brig. Mukhtar Dogar (local rank: Air Commodore) but it was decommissioned in 1972 whose personnel went to join the Army Special Service Group. In 2003, the Pakistan Air Force recommissioned the Special Service Wing and their headgear is distinguished by maroon berets with the airmen wears insignia on the beret, and a wing on the right side of the chest. The combat uniform of SSW is olive drab camouflage. They also wear their special service wing insignia on the left shoulder "Winged Dragons and lightning bolts".

In popular culture[edit]

Books, television series, movies and video games

See also[edit]


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  2. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k "Intro to Pakistani Commandos - Special Service Group | SSG". Army ISPR. Retrieved 23 January 2019.

  3. Jump up to:a b Alvi, Maj-Gen. Faisal A. (31 March 2017). "Intro to Pakistani Commandos - Special Service Group | SSG" (watch.v). Cherat, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan: Pakistan Military. Retrieved 23 January 2019.

  4. Jump up to:a b c d e f g Ryan, Mike; Mann, Chris; Stilwell, Alexander (2014). "(§Special Forces: Pakistan)". The Encyclopedia of the World's Special Forces: Tactics, History, Strategy, Weapons(google books). Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 9781907446894. Retrieved 30 January 2019.

  5. Jump up to:a b c Ahmad, Javid (7 May 2018). "Pakistan's Secret War Machine" The National Interest. Retrieved 23 January 2019.

  6. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q  Khiyal, Cdr. Roshan (21 February 2011). "History of the Special Service Group (SSG) - Pakistan Army - Part 1" (.watch). / (in Urdu). Islamabad: ISPR YouTube. Retrieved 26 January 2019.

  7. Jump up to:a b c d Bennett, Richard M. (2011). "(§Special Forces:Pakistan)". In Berry, Davis (ed.). Elite Forces: The World's Most Formidable Secret Armies (google books) (3rd. ed.). New York, United States: Penguin Random House. ISBN 9780753547649.

  8. ^ "Special Operations School" Retrieved 23 January2019.[permanent dead link]

  9. Jump up to:a b Mitha, PA, Aboobaker Osman (2003). Unlikely Beginnings: A Soldier's Life (snippet view) (1st ed.). Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan: Oxford University Press. p. 443. ISBN 9780195794137. Retrieved 23 January 2019.

  10. Jump up to:a b c d e Singh Bajwa, Mandeep. "Pakistan Special Service Group". Archived from the original on 7 November 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2007.

  11. Jump up to:a b Amin, A. H. (1 February 2002). "Remembering Our Warriors: Remember Brig. S.Y. Minto" defencejournal. Retrieved 23 January 2019.

  12. ^ "Parachute Training School" Archived from the original on 20 January 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.

  13. Jump up to:a b Sirrs, Owen L. (2016). "(§Indo-Pakistani war of 1965)". Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate Covert Action and Internal Operations (google books) (1st ed.). New York, U.S>: Taylor & Francis. p. 328. ISBN 9781317196099. Retrieved 28 January2019.

  14. ^ Amin, A.H. (February 2002). "Remembering Our Warriors: Brig. Shamim Yasin Manto" Karachi: Defence Journal Shamim. Retrieved 19 September2017.

  15. ^ Rammohan, E. M. (2011). "(§The Kashmir Insurgency)". Countering Insurgencies in India (google books). New Delhi, India: Vij Books India Private Limited. p. 226. ISBN 9789381411667. Retrieved 28 January 2019.

  16. Jump up to:a b Conboy, Kenneth (2012). Hannon, Paul (ed.). Elite Forces of India and Pakistan(1st ed.). Bloomberg, Ind. U.S.: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 9781780967677. Retrieved 24 January 2019.

  17. ^ Dhar, Maloy Krishna (2004). "(§Chapter 6)". Mission: Pakistan (google books). iUniverse. p. 658. ISBN 9780595304820.

  18. ^ Ṣiddīqī, ʻAbdurraḥmān (2004). East Pakistan the End Game: An Onlooker's Journal 1969-1971. Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan: Oxford University Press. p. 260. ISBN 9780195799934. Retrieved 28 January 2019.

  19. ^ Kundi, Mansoor Akbar (2002). Balochistan: hope and despair. New Quetta Book Stall. p. 144. Retrieved 28 January 2019.

  20. ^ "Клятва тридцати девяти". Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine A. Oliynik. Krasnaya Zvezda, 29 October 1988. (in Russian)

  21. ^ "Афганистан: бой у высоты 3234". Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine D. Meshchaninov. (in Russian)

  22. ^ Campbell, David (2017). "Battlefield Environment". Soviet Paratrooper vs Mujahideen Fighter: Afghanistan 1979–89 (google books) (1st ed.). New York, US: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 9781472817655. Retrieved 28 January 2019.

  23. ^ Lester W. Grau & Ali Ahmed Jalali, Forbidden Cross-Border Vendetta: Spetsnaz Strike into Pakistan during the Soviet-Afghan War Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback MachineJournal of Slavic Military Studies, December 2005, p.1-2 Referenced copy was obtained via the Foreign Military Studies Office website

  24. ^ Pervaiz, Athar (8 February 2016). "Killer Siachen — 'where a Pakistani soldier dies every four days from the cold'"Dawn. Siachen in Pakistan. Retrieved 30 January 2019.

  25. Jump up to:a b Peter R. Lavoy, Peter R. (2009). Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia. London, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139482820. Retrieved 30 January 2019.

  26. ^ Khiyal, Commander Roshan. "Special Service Group (SSG) - Pakistan Army - Part 2". Retrieved 28 January 2019.

  27. ^ Ali, Syed Ishfaq (1991). Fangs of Ice: The Story of Siachen (snippet view). Pak American Commercial. p. 161. ISBN 9789698152000.

  28. ^ Singh, Harjeet (2010). South Asia Defence and Strategic Year Book, 2010 (google books )). New Delhi, India: Pentagon Security International. p. 376. ISBN 9788182744448. Retrieved 30 January 2019.

  29. ^ Raina, Dina Nath (1994). Kashmir - Distortions and Reality. Reliance Publishing House. p. 307. ISBN 9788185972527.

  30. ^ Witte, Griff (22 August 2010). "Mosque siege ends, and grim cleanup begins"San Francisco Chronicle.

  31. ^ Secret U.S. Unit Trains Commandos in Pakistan, Eric Schmit and Jane Perlez, New York Times, 22 February 2009

  32. ^ Joseph, Josy (10 January 2013). "Pak cross-LoC raid: Brutality similar to 2000 strike by Ilyas Kashmiri"The Times of India. Retrieved 12 January 2013.

  33. ^ "Second beheading in two years by Pakistan". 10 January 2013. Retrieved 12 January2013.

  34. ^ Rajat Pandit (8 August 2013). "Pakistan's special commando force behind LoC attack"Times of India. Retrieved 23 August 2013.

  35. ^ "Kashmir: Five Indian soldiers killed in shooting"BBC. 6 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.

  36. Jump up to:a b c Oberoi, Vijay (2006). Special Forces: Doctrine, Structures, and Employment Across Spectrum of Conflict in the Indian Context. Knowledge World. p. 458. ISBN 9788187966395. Retrieved 11 February 2019.

  37. Jump up to:a b Ahsan, Zaeem (13 October 2013). "Special Services Group (SSG)"Spec Ops Magazine. Spec Ops Magazine. Retrieved 26 January 2019.

  38. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Special Operations School: Selection Criteria" Retrieved 26 January 2019.[permanent dead link]

  39. Jump up to:a b Katoch, P. C.; Datta, Saikat (2013). "(Pakistan Army Special Forces)". India's Special Forces History and Future of Special Forces (google books) (1st ed.). New Delhi, India: Vij Books India Private Limited. ISBN 9789382573524. Retrieved 26 January 2019.

  40. ^ "Para Training School SSG to Cherat" (google maps). Para Training School SSG to Cherat. Retrieved 26 January 2019.

  41. ^ Tomas Hirst. "The 9 most elite special forces in the world"Business Insider Australia. Retrieved 17 February 2016.

  42. Jump up to:a b c "Special Service Group (SSG) - Pakistan Army's SSG selection". Retrieved 26 January 2019.

  43. ^ Arif, Khalid Mahmud (2001). Khaki Shadows: Pakistan 1947-1997 (snippet view). Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan: Oxford University Press. p. 452. ISBN 9780195793963. Retrieved 27 January 2019.

  44. Jump up to:a b c d "Pakistan and Turkish Special Forces participate in Military Exercise in Ankara"Tele-Visual Infolink. Tele-Visual Infolink. Tele-Visual Infolink. 26 March 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2019.

  45. Jump up to:a b Sharif, Arshad (28 April 2005). "Nothing unusual about Cherat exercises: ISPR"DAWN.COM. Cherat, Pakistan: Dawn Newspaper. Dawn Newspaper. Retrieved 27 January2019.

  46. ^ "Joint Anti-terror Military Exercise Concludes". Xinhua News Agency.

  47. ^ Gady, Franz-Stefan (17 October 2018). "Pakistan, Russia to Hold Joint Military Exercise"The Diplomat. Islamabad, Pakistan: The Diplomat. The Diplomat. Retrieved 27 January 2019.

  48. ^ "Russian forces arrive in Pakistan for third joint-military drill"The Economic Times. 22 October 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2019.

  49. ^ "Afghan Gunmen Hijack a School Bus in Pakistan"AP. 21 February 1994. Retrieved 17 February 2016 – via The New York Times.

  50. ^ "Islamabad reviews Afghan refugee policy after hijack"News Straits Times. Islamabad. 21 February 1994. Retrieved 30 June 2012.

  51. ^ Dead belonged to company deployed at Lal Masjid, Jamia Hafsa’ By Javed Iqbal & Mushtaq Yusufzai The News, Pakistan 14 September 2007

  52. ^ Bomb in Pakistan Kills at Least 15 From Elite Unit By SALMAN MASOOD and ISMAIL KHAN 14 September 2007

  53. ^ Faisal Ali, Mohammad (30 March 2009). "13 killed, 100 injured as forces recapture Manawan academy". Dawn TV. Retrieved 31 March 2009.

  54. ^ Nawaz, Hamid (30 March 2009). "Lahore under attack again: 12 dead, 90 injured in bloody siege at police academy, three gunmen captured". Aaj TV. Archived from the original on 2 October 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2009.

  55. ^ "Pakistan commandos rescue 39 hostages, three killed". Reuters. 11 October 2009. Retrieved 11 October 2009.

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  57. ^ "Gen Asim Bajwa"Twitter. Retrieved 17 February 2016.

  58. ^ Sophia Saifi and Greg Botelho, CNN (16 December 2014). "Taliban school attack: 145 killed in Pakistan siege -"CNN. Retrieved 17 February 2016.

  59. ^ Entertainment Desk, ED (6 September 2015). "Timeless classics that pay tribute to Pakistan's armed forces"The Express Tribune. The Express Tribune. The Express Tribune. Retrieved 26 January 2019.

Recommended reading[edit]

  • Mitha, PA, Aboobaker Osman (2003). Unlikely Beginnings: A Soldier's Life. Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan: Oxford University Press. p. 443. ISBN 9780195794137.

  • Khan, PA, Ghulam Jilani (2004). اس اس جى : تاریخ کے اینے میں (English Lit: SSG: A historical past). Cherat: ISPR Publications, pp. 358. (in Urdu)

Sources and external links[edit]

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