Indian ArmyIndian Defence

Can An Agniveer Join The Special Forces?

As of now, the Agniveer program, introduced by the Indian government as part of the Agnipath scheme, recruits young individuals for short-term service in the armed forces, including the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The tenure for Agniveers is four years, after which a 25 Percent Aginveers retained for a longer service period, while others transition to civilian life with benefits and support for future career opportunities.

Regarding the Special Forces, such as the Para (Special Forces) in the Indian Army, the selection process is extremely rigorous and demands a high level of physical and mental endurance. Typically, candidates for Special Forces are selected from within the existing ranks of the armed forces, including officers and soldiers who have already demonstrated exceptional performance and potential.

For Agniveers to Join Special Forces, The Following Considerations Might Apply:

The youth who opt for this scheme stand to gain significantly. Considering the state of our educational and professional institutions, which often focus on theoretical knowledge, an Agniveer, after four years of experience with the armed forces, will be far more capable and employable.

Whether they join the CAPF, Paramilitary Forces, Defence civilians, PSUs, or the corporate world, their skills and training will make them valuable assets. These individuals will receive professional training, education, and managerial skills at the government’s expense, along with handsome financial rewards. They will carry the ethos and values of the armed forces and take pride in having served their country. 

Despite their enhanced capabilities, Agniveers will face challenges once they leave the armed forces. They will need to balance job searches, family commitments, and further education. This is similar to the experience of SSC officers who look for new opportunities after their service. However, focused and determined individuals will overcome this initial anxiety. While adapting to a new working environment will be challenging, Agniveers will have an advantage over their peers who spent the same period in academic institutions.

Also Read, Explained: Agnipath Scheme – A Boon or a Bane?

Challenges – The Armed Forces

The Armed Forces have long sought a younger profile. This need was underscored during the Eastern Ladakh crisis, which required a swift deployment of troops. Many older troops were found medically unfit or lacked the necessary enthusiasm. The Kargil operation and Eastern Ladakh crisis highlighted the need for young, fit soldiers, as reflected in the Kargil Committee Review Report. Most of the soldiers who excelled in these operations were in their 20s.

Additionally, the scheme allows for greater flexibility in personnel management. It will be easier to release troops who wish to leave for personal reasons and to let go of those with performance or discipline issues. By maintaining a younger force and managing disability pensions more effectively, the armed forces can stay combat-ready.

The scheme has numerous challenges. Training the youth quickly, ensuring their employability, and instilling the armed forces’ values are primary objectives. In technologically intensive trades, like those in the IAF, careful planning is needed. Their initial integration into the workforce will require support. The armed forces must ensure that Agniveers are seen as valuable, demobilized resources, not rejects and looking into train in the special forces after stipulated tests and examinations.

India’s growing economy relies heavily on its young population. By 2030, nearly half the population will be under 20-25. The Agnipath scheme offers short-term employment and instils responsibility in the youth, potentially transforming them into influencers who drive the country forward. This scheme also aims to streamline defense finances and maintain a young, lean, and efficient force. 

The Agniveer program, part of India’s Agnipath scheme, recruits young individuals for short-term service in the armed forces, including the Army, Navy, and Air Force. This program aims to enhance the capabilities of the youth, providing them with valuable skills and experience over a four-year tenure. However, the question arises:

Is It Possible For Agniveer To Join The Parachute Regiment Through the Agnipath Program?

Many applicants are inquiring about the potential to join PARA SF or the Parachute Regiments after entering the army through the Agnipath Scheme. However, there’s no clear information on whether one can specifically select the regiment through the Agnipath Entry.

As per the official notification, “Agniveers can be posted to any regiment/unit and can be further transferred in organizational interest.” Nevertheless, it’s highly improbable for Agniveer to be assigned to Parachute regiments or undergo Para SF probation during their four-year tenure. There is a chance, though, that 25% of permanent Agniveers may apply for the Parachute Regiment.

The selection process for recruitment into the PARA Regiment under the Agnipath Scheme is not explicitly outlined. Currently, the complete PARA Commando recruitment process follows certain criteria. Successful candidates with outstanding physical fitness and written test scores, along with merit, will be given the option to join the ELITE PARA Regt by AROs just before deployment. These volunteers will undergo additional tests for PARA Regt selection. Those who opt for the PARA Regt but fail the special screening tests will revert to their Parent Regt.

Volunteers undergo specific tests and are dispatched to PRTC. If they can’t meet training standards, they move to their parent Regt. These guidelines are subject to refinement once the process is active. Agniveers enrolled under the Agnipath Scheme serve for four years under the Army Act, 1950, with no pension or gratuity. Their service terms, including leave, uniform, pay, and duties, are governed by government orders. After four years, Agniveers are discharged and provided a ‘Seva Nidhi’ package. Some may apply for enrolment in the regular IA cadre based on performance and organizational requirements, but only up to 25% of each batch.

Also Read, Agnipath Scheme – A Boon or a Bane?

Pathway to Special Forces

The Special Forces, such as the Para (Special Forces) in the Indian Army, are known for their rigorous selection process and high standards of physical and mental endurance. Traditionally, candidates for these units are selected from within the existing ranks of the armed forces. Here’s how Agniveers might fit into this pathway:

Exceptional Performance: Agniveers would need to demonstrate exceptional performance during their four-year tenure. Superior physical fitness, mental resilience, and a strong recommendation from their superiors would be critical.

Specialized Training: Like all Special Forces candidates, Agniveers would have to undergo and pass additional specialized selection processes and training modules. This training is extremely demanding and designed to identify the most capable and resilient soldiers.

Policy and Eligibility: There needs to be a clear policy framework that allows Agniveers to be eligible for Special Forces training. This might include extending their service beyond the initial four years if they are selected for Special Forces roles.

Benefits of Including Agniveers in Special Forces

Youthful Energy: The primary advantage would be the infusion of young, enthusiastic, and highly trained individuals into the Special Forces, which traditionally benefits from younger soldiers due to the physical demands of the role.

Broadening Talent Pool: Including Agniveers would expand the talent pool, allowing the Special Forces to select from a larger group of trained individuals, potentially increasing the overall quality and capability of the units.

Retention of Talent: Allowing a pathway for Agniveers to join Special Forces could be a way to retain highly skilled and motivated individuals in the armed forces, providing them with a fulfilling career path.

Challenges and Considerations

Selection Process: The rigorous nature of Special Forces selection would need to be maintained, ensuring that only the most capable individuals, whether regular soldiers or Agniveers, are chosen.

Policy Clarity: Clear guidelines and policies must be established to outline the eligibility, training, and transition processes for Agniveers aiming to join Special Forces.

Integration and Training: Ensuring that Agniveers receive adequate training and integration into the existing framework of the Special Forces is crucial. This might require adjustments in training programs to accommodate the unique backgrounds of Agniveers.

Also Read, Explained: The Evolution of Indian Special Forces

Some Interesting Facts about Para Commandos for Agniveers and Potential Students

Discover fascinating facts about Para Commandos, an elite special forces unit renowned for their bravery and exceptional skills. Explore the unique aspects of these elite soldiers and their remarkable feats that distinguish them in the military landscape.

  • Paratrooper Qualification: Before becoming Para Commandos, all personnel must qualify as paratroopers. They undergo rigorous parachuting training to ensure they can be deployed quickly behind enemy lines.
  • Volunteer Force: All Indian Paratroopers are volunteers. Only serving army personnel can join the Para Commandos, adding to the unit’s elite status.
  • Probationary Period: Aspiring Para Commandos undergo a gruelling three-month probationary period, during which they face intense physical and mental tests. Many candidates do not make it past this stage.
  • Paratroopers Training School: Successful candidates proceed to the Paratroopers Training School (PTS) in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Here, they must complete five jumps, including one at night, to earn their wings and the coveted maroon beret.
  • Specialized Training: After qualifying as paratroopers, those who choose to become Para Commandos undergo an additional three months of specialized training, known for its intensity.
  • Rigorous Selection Process: The selection process to become a Para Commando is among the longest and toughest in the world. Candidates endure sleep deprivation, humiliation, exhaustion, and physical and mental torture. Tragically, some candidates have lost their lives during this process.
  • High Attrition Rate: The attrition rate for Para Commando selection is exceptionally high, around 80%, highlighting the challenging nature of the training and selection process.
  • Operational Efficiency: Para Commandos are selected for their youth, physical fitness, mental robustness, intelligence, innovation, and high motivation to maintain their operational efficiency and physical fitness.
  • Extensive Operational History: The Parachute Regiment, to which the Para Commandos belong, has participated in numerous operations within India and internationally, including United Nations missions in Gaza and Korea.
  • “Red Devils” Moniker: The nickname “Red Devils” was given to Para Commandos by soldiers of the German African Corps during combat in Africa, inspired by their maroon berets.
  • Components of the Regiment: The Parachute Regiment includes traditional parachute forces (3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th Parachute) and Parachute Special Forces units (1 Para SF, 2 Para SF, 4 Para SF, 9 Para SF, 10 Para SF, 13 Para SF, and 21 Para SF).
  • Diverse Training and Specialized Skills: Different Para SF units specialize in various types of warfare. For example, 10 Para SF focuses on desert warfare but is also trained for urban, jungle, and mountain warfare, while 21 Para SF excels in counter-insurgency, jungle warfare, and guerrilla warfare.  Para Commandos are trained in a wide range of skills, including firing while rolling and snaking. They operate in small teams, making them well-suited for special missions and clandestine operations.
  • Limited Sustainment: Para Commandos can sustain themselves in enemy territory for a brief period, typically up to 72 hours, before risking being overwhelmed by enemy forces.
  • Small Team Operations: Para Special Forces units are organized to operate in smaller teams, which is crucial for special missions and clandestine operations requiring secrecy and flexibility.

Also Read, Can Indian Special Forces Be Ranked Among The Best?

Current Status and Future Prospects

As of now, specific policies regarding the eligibility of Agniveers for Special Forces selection have not been explicitly outlined. However, the potential pathway for Agniveers to enter Special Forces could be a part of future policy developments. The evolving nature of the Agnipath scheme may eventually include provisions for exceptional Agniveers to join these elite units.

While the Agniveer program primarily focuses on short-term service, there is potential for Agniveers to join the Special Forces, provided they meet the rigorous selection criteria and policies are put in place to support this pathway. The inclusion of Agniveers could bring fresh talent and energy to India’s elite units, benefiting both the individuals and the armed forces.

Conclusion

While the new recruitment scheme for the armed forces presents several challenges, it also offers significant benefits. By focusing on the positives and addressing the challenges, stakeholders can work together to make it a success. The scheme has the potential to transform not only the armed forces but also the nation’s youth and overall development.

As of the latest information, there hasn’t been a specific directive or policy statement explicitly allowing or disallowing Agniveers to join the Special Forces. The scheme is still relatively new, and the processes and opportunities for Agniveers are evolving. It would be advisable for interested individuals to keep abreast of official announcements from the Indian Ministry of Defence or their respective branches for the most current and detailed information.

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Sheikh Akhter

Warfare & Defense Systems l Military Equipment Intelligence | OSINT I Content, Insights & Strategy | Leadership | Solutions | Policy | A&D Consulting

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