Indian Army Updates

Special Frontier Force: The Vikas Battalion


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Special Frontier Force (SFF)

Mains level : India's security forces

There have been reports that a Special Frontier Force (SFF) unit, referred to as Vikas Battalion, has been instrumental in occupying some key heights on the LAC.

Try this question for mains:

Q.“It cannot be business as usual with China after the border clash.” Critically comment.

What is the Special Frontier Force (SFF)?

  • SFF was raised in the immediate aftermath of the 1962 Sino-India war.
  • It was a covert outfit which recruited Tibetans (now it has a mixture of Tibetans and Gorkhas) and initially went by the name of Establishment 22.
  • It was named so because it was raised by Major General Sujan Singh Uban, an Artillery officer who had commanded 22 Mountain Regiment.
  • He, therefore, named the new covert group after his regiment. Subsequently, the group was renamed as Special Frontier Force.
  • SFF now falls under the purview of the Cabinet Secretariat where it is headed by an Inspector General who is an Army officer of the rank of Major General.

Is SFF a part of the Army?

  • Strictly speaking, the SFF units are not part of the Army but they function under the operational control of the Army.
  • The units have their own rank structures which have equivalent status with Army ranks.
  • However, they are highly trained Special Forces personnel who can undertake a variety of tasks which would normally be performed by any Special Forces unit.
  • The SFF units, therefore, function virtually as any other Army unit in operational areas despite having a separate charter and history.

Major operations conducted

  • There are several overt and covert operations in which SFF units have taken part over the years.
  • They took part in operations in the 1971 war, Operation Blue Star in Golden Temple Amritsar, Kargil conflict and in counter-insurgency operations in the country.
  • There are several other operations too in which the SFF has participated but the details are classified.
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