Force one: Maharashtra's Newest Commando Unit

Force One is an elite commando force, which is a specialised counter terrorism unit to guard the Mumbai metropolitan area, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, formed by Government of Maharashtra on the lines of National Security Guards (NSG). It was formed under Maharashtra Police, as a response to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and was commissioned two days before its first anniversary.

The commandos of Force One are trained at Maharashtra Intelligence Academy, the College of Military Engineering, Pune, and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in the use of sophisticated arms and explosives, and are known for their rapid shooting skills. While the NSG has a regional hub in Mumbai, Force One is expected to be part of the initial response to a terror strike in Mumbai.

Dressed in navy blue overalls and maroon beret caps, Force One’s commandos today are admired for their level of training. “We have seen them train, and they are doing really well,” said one NSG officer posted in Mumbai.

Their headquarters, spread across 96 acres inside the Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon (East), has one of the finest firing ranges in India. “The commandos are constantly training, so that they are ready to be put into action at any given hour,” said an IPS officer, and added that the selection process was gruelling.

“Only 5% of those who apply get through. There are several steps to qualify, prime among them being physical fitness. Only the best are selected,” 

This rigour has not only won Force One several competitions, but has also seen the unit train personnel from others forces. “Force One commandos recently trained the Mozambique police, and regularly train Quick Response Teams (QRT) of all units in Maharashtra, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and also the Jammu and Kashmir police,” said another IPS officer.

The force, however, still faces one possible setback — it has never dealt with real combat.

“The difference between a commando of the Special Action Group (SAG) of the NSG and Force One is the former is a serving, battle-hardened Army personnel, who has seen action in Kashmir or the North-East,” said a serving Indian Army officer. 

“How effective Force One commandos will be in a real-life situation cannot be gauged yet. The proposition becomes different when you have bullets whizzing past your ears.”

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