In September 2004, Indian Air Force established its own special operations unit called the Garuda Commando Force, consisting of approximately 2000 personnel.
The unit derives its name from Garuda, a divine bird-like creature from Hindu mythology, which crushes serpents and evil creatures.
They are the youngest of the special forces in the country.
Prominently visible during the Aero India 2005 airshow in Bangalore, the Garudas' presence ensured the presence of an emergency response team when needed and also gave a first glimpse for the Indian public of the IAF's new combat arm.
Their role is diverse and largely specific to the air force. During hostilities, Garudas undertake combat rescue, supression of enemy air defence and other missions in support of air operations.
Their peace time role can be looked under counter terrorism, anti-hijacking, aid during natural calamities and military tasks in the interest of the nation.Garuds have been deployed to Congo as a part of the UN peace keeping contingent.
Operating alongside the special forces of the Army in Jammu and Kashmir provide them the much needed operational exposure. Towards this purpose, teams from the flights are attached to army SF units.
In case of any terrorist attack , like the failed attempt on Awantipur AFS in October 2001, the Garuds will act as an emergency response team and will be on the scene to tackle the threat.
All Garudas sport the 9mm pistol as personal armament. Most of the airmen are issued with the INSAS rifle, as observed during Aero India 2005.
Recruitment to the Garudas is done directly through airmen selection centers via advertisements.
Candidates found eligible for the force are put through a process of rigorous physical training. The total duration of training before a trainee can qualify as a fully operational Garuda is around 3 years.
Once a recruit completes training and meets required standards, he is absorbed into the Commando force and is retained in this stream throughout his career.