Friday, November 04, 2011

Three Days With Marine Commandos

I spent the first few days of this week sailing with and filming an Indian Navy Marine Commandos (MARCOS) unit for a report on special and amphibious naval operations for my channel, Headlines Today. This is the closest I've ever gotten to the MARCOS. I spent three days talking to the commandos (all strictly off the record, of course) and getting real insights into their training, tactics and doctrines. It is with their permission that I've put these photographs up.

It was truly a privilege sitting on the sun-dappled beach of Rutland Island, across the Macpherson Strait from the rest of the Andaman Islands, and exchanging stories with these men -- the MARCOS team I shot with was represented from all across the country -- from Orissa, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. It was surreal listening to the amazing stories of survival training, a large part of special operations training. And listening to what they thought of 26/11, Operation Neptune Spear, the SEALs and other operations.

My special thanks to MARCOS officer Lieutenant 'Sierra' for being so open about his men, and to the magarmachh unit at Rutland for welcoming an intrusive journalist with lots of questions. Godspeed and Shano Varuna, though I know you operate in the other two dimensions as well :)

Photos / Shiv Aroor

(Tomorrow: Photos and an account of an amphibious exercise at Rutland)

42 comments :

chinkyiitm said...

Shiv Sir--- Simply awesome sirji..respect :)...you have just outdone, outgunned and outperformed yourself :-) When will the report be telecasted? am assuming there will be a video of the MARCOS there which would be an icing on the cake...

Shiv Aroor said...

@chinkyiitm: thanks :) yes, lots of excellent video footage that'll all be part of a half-hour special report shortly. will post timings on blog and twitter.

Ashutosh Narayan Singh said...

Simply great, Sir!! :) But was expecting to see MARCOS totting Tavors, Negevs, AK 104s, Galatz, etc.. Only INSAS n 103? :(

Ashutosh Narayan Singh said...

Simply great, Sir!! :) But was expecting to see MARCOS totting Tavors, Negevs, AK 104s, Galatz, etc.. Only INSAS n 103? :(

Sushant said...

It will be a treat to watch your report. Thank you Shiv.Will it be uploaded on YouTube? If so please provide the link on twitter also.

RAJ said...

Shiv - Mindblowing. Thanks 4 sharing thes picturs wit us. I envy u coz u got 2 speak n spnd tym wit our heroes :) Takecare.

Anonymous said...

Hey Shiv thanx in advance for this video...

I have a question, after seeing the pics of Marcos which i must say are the best, i just wanna know whether they have procured all the modern gears like their counterparts in US, UK and France because the above pics looks like Marcos are not provided with the best equipments which they are entitled to? Nowadays when we see Paras, i think now our Paras might even be better equipped than their counterparts in US army.

vipulmb said...

Great pics Shiv, well done. One request to you... Please use more transparent watermark on your blog's pics. Waiting for your special report which i hope will be telecast soon.

Shiv Aroor said...

To clarify, our MARCOS have already started receiving their Tavor assault rifles, which are being inducted in phases. A couple of MARCOS in the unit I shot had Tavors (they were at the other end of the beach so I couldn't get still pictures of them, but did on video). So yes, they are getting new weapons and equipment. Obviously not all of it is represented here.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Shiv. Looking forward to your video show. Longer the better!
-regards,
JB

Mayuresh Gaikwad said...

Shiv Sir,

Is it possible for you to upload unedited footage onto youtube once the programme is aired? I would hate not being able to see footage that had to be edited out due to time constraints

Anonymous said...

Equip our elite with G36, SIG553, M-4, MP7, Negev, HK 416, HK MG4, Artic Warfare sniper rifle and with most modern equipment's, but not with the DRDO shit INSAS.

Gaur said...

Thanks for these excellent pics. However, if I may make a request, could you try to persuade HT to update their website's video quality. I know that would require some investment but the current video quality on their website is unwatchable. It certainly doesn't do justice to some of the excellent programs you guys are making (including your program on IN some time back and recently hosted "heroes" episodes). I don't expect 720p quality, but on the very least, the video quality should be at par with NDTV's. Also, if the above suggestion is not possible, why not upload full programs to the Headline Today's official youtube channel? Certainly the channel will enjoy the advantage of the much larger youtube viewerbase to get greater exposer and increased viewership/revenue. I would love to watch your program where MARCOS were shown practicing hostage drill at Reliance Oil Rig in a decent quality.

Shiv Aroor said...

@Gaur: I agree about video quality. It's an issue I've taken up before. I'm told that our network websites are being overhauled, and quality of video clips will be much better shortly.

Anonymous said...

r they wearing 10 rupee monkey caps????

Anonymous said...

And Shivjee when are our Marcos going to be equipped with death rays, laser guns, invisibility shields and flying saucers?

Gaur said...

Shiv,
Good to know that HT is taking care of this issue.

Anonymous said...

ski masks? I imagine it is pretty hard to breathe with all that water soaked in it.

Anonymous said...

Shiv,

Now your pics are more understandable......What they do is of course on a need to know basis.....but the INSAS still sticks out like a sore thumb for me....Do the Marcos really carry INSAS as one of their standard issue rifles ?????????????

Anonymous said...

do marcos receives similar training as those of paratroopers ?

Hari said...

u the man Shiv :). Great job...

Anonymous said...

hi Shiv,

surprised to see INSAS. Did it worked well after submerged in water? Was it reliable? Even if not used during the mock up, did the commandos found it reliable?

Anonymous said...

i don't feel anything great in our commandos. my reasons are:

1.their caps: woolen caps as if some people wearing in winter.
2. rifles: don't seem sophisticated
3. carrying bags: are they going to school?

i feel very sorry

Anonymous said...

i am pretty sure the ski masks was a special for shiv's camera :) :)

Anonymous said...

Second pic should serve as an eye opener for critiques of INSAS for long time to come. A combination of AK and INSAS means one for spray firing other for accurate shooting. By the the appearance, i guess it's a beach assault drill and for that only reliable weapons are picked. That says all for INSAS. Now who in hell needs to listen to armchair generals and corrupt section of Indian population.

Ram said...

@ anonymous 8.51
@ anonymous 5.38
What you guys are seeing here is just a fraction of the gear that MARCOS use. They do use CCBA, SKI goggles etc Keeping in view the confidentiality I would not reveal the nature of most sophisticated equipment they use. I had the occasion to see their base in Mumbai (their CQB facility) and Vizag, hear first hand operational experience in Wullar lake, Kashmir, Gulf of Aden, Srilanka and certain other classified ops. MARCOS is rated as one of top 4 special forces in the world. They are only special force in the world that operate in Murkier Indian and Arabian Ocean. Its the only special force that is allowed to grow bear and is called a dadiwali sena in kashmir. Their training is most arduous and the standards that are fixed to achieve are some time more than that of SEALS or the SAS. Even what Shiv saw is just a fraction of their prowess, stealth and might. I guess only the enemy will be able to tell MARCOS real strength, that is if he lives to tell.

Ram said...

To add to my previous comment, the wepons they use are varied. right from MP5(CQB) to AK 103, Negave, Tavors, GSG9 Snipers including the INSAS. Their adoption of weapons is based on the nature of the operation. They are adept in handling every type of weapon and each MARCO is a perfect marksman. EK GOLI EK DUSHMAN

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with Anonymous @11:10 above. I'd request all of INSAS baiters to grow up. What is your fascination with foreign maal ?

Ravi said...

Looking at the comments, one can observe the fascination people have with the weapons from other countries. Guess all that fancy marketing and nice shows on TV help.

Get a grip and have confidence in our own products. No country produced a perfect weapon in the first try. Their armed forces were willing to work with the manufacturers and the end result is a mature arms industry and good product. Similarly, with support from Indian armed forces, Indian companies too can produce good weapon system. If one goes running to foreign producers every time, we will just be giving away billions to other countries, and not enhance our own capability.

The navy has always supported indigenous products much more than the other two services, and I hope they continue on that path.

Raven said...

Tell me something.. I see no weapon covers. Standard issue AK and INSAS, will they work after being soaked into salt-water???

Anonymous said...

Every fauj in the world, I mean everyone with a few exceptions I will come to, loves to use foreign maal. The French have used Belgian and German equipment custome'd by their armourers for decades. The Brits may use Enfield bullpups, but Police love the HK MPs and Glocks. The Italians have their Berettas, but also use FNs and the M4. The Germans use their own weapons as well as Swiss and Austrian stuff. And then the US. What about the US? Police swear by the Glock, despite having a chintamani of local gunmakers to choose from. The M4 is popular of course but so are the MPs and marksmen rifles. As for the Army and the Marines, there's a book waiting to be written about how small arms were selected and how much the rank and file grunt has been repeatedly disppointed. Right now grunts want the HK assault rifle and want to be rid of the M4 ASAP. And AKs? Talk about it. Cops tell me that the AK is a work of genius and can used without error by fool and know all alike. There are any number of grunts who have used their cache of AKs on the field, because this is witout exception the most reliable assault weapon ever. Among all faujis, it is Russia alone that has doggedly depended on its own gunmakers, because the Russian general has a great deal of understanding for the average Ivan. They have time and again created simple reliable equipment that have worked in all conditions. That's why the Chinese have simply copied Russian arms designs. Of course eeryone knows that the SAS/SBS get to choose their own equipment.

Anonymous said...

Raven, if MARCOS are using it in salt water, it means they have been tested and do work.

Just a note: AK is the world's most reliable rifle. Thats why it is so popular. INSAS has some concepts from AK and after some initial problems has become quite reliable.

Anonymous said...

@Ram
Really dude? Need for secrecy? Indian soldiers use all imported gear, info on which is readily available on media.

give me one good reason to hide the good stuff ? All I see in those pix is that Indian soldiers use outdated stuff.

panky said...

Para COmmandos (Base Nahan HP) are much netter trained & equipped than MARCOS Just saw their video on YT Ranbir Kapoor visit their base at NAhan &I was stunned .. literally. They live in secrecy no so media hype but they are doing really good must watch video

Anonymous said...

Arm chair generals and Call of Duty players!!!Some worry about the Guns not having covers, little realizing that the weapon may have to fired at any time.And whether its INSAS or an M4 or AK the gun will fire as long as the barrel is not blocked by water the actions are cleaned as soon as opportunity presents.Sea water contains fine sand ant it will jam any gun if allowed to dry on the action if not cleaned properly.Others worry about 'school bags' while going gaga over a similar looking Camelbak on a US Soldier.For others the weapon does not look jazzy enough!Am yet to meet someone who survived an INSAS shot by shouting ugly ugly at it!

Anonymous said...

some of the comments on this thread truly reveal the depth of hollywood conditioning of our general population. there is no cure other than reading up yourself.


rifles not looking 'sophisticated' enough - would the addition of some huge gunsight help the mission? or maybe a 300 round arnie style box mag feeding a belt into a hand carried gatling gun? maybe a horse carried drum mag of 1500 rds ?

posture not 'tactical' enough - LOL telling this to the guys who do this everyday when their lives depend on it.

light kit and bag - they are on a beach assault not long endurance recce mission. should they buy north face branded bags to keep all happy? and abercrombie t-shirts?

ski masks - obviously for Shiv's camera. in mumbai they pulled cotton masks on for TV.

no cool black glasses - lets start a fund to give them all oakley sunshades.

Mr. Ra said...

They have to shoot accurately and they have to survive. They know better than us and they have options. Still they use INSAS as well, so it must be dependable for some reason or the other.

Anonymous said...

@ Raven

If they won't then there had been no. Remember MARCOS is elite and they hand pick their weapons.

sukraat said...

1)To who asked if AK will jam in water
-No the AK series is known for this put it in sand,water,mud it will fire.When precautions are taken even the M-4,INSAS wont jam in water,the only other rifle i see which displays the AK's rugedness is the HK416.

2)To who said he feels our SF are better equipped than US SF
-I think you havent seen much of their SF,the US spends about a billion dollars alone on Delta Force and DEVGRU their equipment is outstanding.

3)To who commented on PARA(SF)having superiority in toys over MARCOS
-MARCOS too have good toys they dont wont to show them,MARCOS have tighter regulations than PARA's.

4)To who asked why they hide their toys
-Simple they dont want the scums in Pak. to know what firepower they possess.the navy SSG is more secretive than army SSG in this regard.

5)to the one who asked if MARCOS and Army SF have similar training
-No MARCOS operate mainly on water,Army on Land.I believe for an SF unit training is built around their main area of operations,like you wont see SEALS doing marches in BUDS and Green Berets running around with boats near the Sea in SFAS.

@Ram
-I liked our reply

@Gaur
-I like the SF discussion in Bharat Rakshak i visit it for news on the Indian SF you,Surya,RayC post good stuff.

@Shiv
Another fab. job ,would love to read about their take on 26/11,Neptune Spear,SEALs and part of their training whatever you feel you can post.Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff here and really inspiring, thanks ShivJi...

Just an opinion, aren't the woollen balaclavas on a marine unit too out of place in terms of creature comforts?(I think modern dark rubber wear go well to protect against water)!!

Aryan Vats A said...

One needs to know how to operate any eqipement because in combat one can loose his original weapons ,even seals are trained to use outdated equipments.

Aryan Vats A said...

One needs to learn to operate any eqipement avaiaible to him if one looses his original weapons in combat even seals are trained to use weapons like aks.