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The smart Black Cat commandos and the safari suits of SPG commandos: 7 Indian armed forces uniform codes that you need to know


Last Updated: September 01, 2014, 13:49 IST

The smart Black Cat commandos and the safari suits of SPG commandos: 7 Indian armed forces uniform codes that you need to know

The NSG troops will usually be seen in safari suits. How do you identify the others? Follow this guide!

The Indian armed forces is a combination of the all the military forces including the Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Indian Coast Guard. With a strength of over 1.3 million personnel, the Indian armed forces is the world's third largest military force and the largest standing volunteer army in the world.

From winning wars to standing tall and taking the lead during terrorist attacks we have seen Black Cat commandos, CRPF personnel and NSG troops in action. But how do you distinguish between their uniforms? Here are seven armed forces that you need to know to tell them apart from their uniforms.


Indian Army: The Indian Army uniform has a camouflage pattern on the army’s troops and commandos posted in deserts. The ones in the deserts have lighter tones to merge with the surroundings. At higher altitude and jungle operations, the troops wear darker shades. The special forces wear their trademark purple berets and are equipped with Israeli Tavor assault rifles. The army has adopted a Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) for its camouflage uniform, making it distinct from paramilitary forces. The modern Indian Army wears distinctive parade uniforms characterised by variegated turbans and waist-sashes in regimental colours. The Gurkha and Garwhal Rifles and the Assam, Kumaon and the Naga Regiments wear broad brimmed hats of traditional style. Traditionally, all Rifle regiments and the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, Garhwal Rifles, Gurkha Rifles, and Rajputana Rifles) wear rank badges, buttons and blackened wire embroidered articles of uniform in black instead of the usual Brass (or gold) coloured as the original role of the rifle regiments was camouflage and concealment.

Garud Commando Force: The Indian Air Force raised its commando force in 2004 for tasks such as rapid response to a terror strike on air bases. Garud airman wear the “Airman Beret Badge” on the cap. They are also parachute trained, and wear the Operational Paratroopers Brevet above the right pocket. The “Garud Force Patch” can be seen worn on the sleeve. The Garud Commando Badge, which was worn on the right pocket and resembles the NSG badge, is no longer in use. Instead they now have a Garud Winged Badge which is gold in colour and worn on the left chest, similar to where pilot/aircrew wings are worn.

The Garuds used to wear a black beret, instead of the traditional maroon beret of the other Indian Special Forces units, but now wear the maroon beret. They sport the operational paratroopers brevet on the right chest. The formation ensignia is worn on the left shoulder. The Garuds are also entitled to wear “IAF GARUD” titles on the sleeves.

National Security Guard: The NSG is one of the seven one of the seven Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) under the Ministry of Home Affairs. The NSG is also known as Black Cats because of the black dress and because of its black cat its signage worn on its uniform. Established under the National Security Guard Act 1985, the Black Cats are today the country’s premier counter-terrorist force conducting anti-sabotage checks, countering hijackings, rescuing hostages from kidnappings, neutralizing terrorist attacks to vital installations, and providing security to important politicians. The 26/11 Mumbai attacks saw Black Cat commandos taking control of the situation. The NSG had recently also warned private security agencies to desist from use of black coloured dungarees/uniform specifically patterned and designed for NSG Commandos.

CISF: The CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) commandos are experts in VVIP security, security of airports and in securing industrial installations. For anyone who travels by the Delhi metro and frequently fly from one city to another, the CISF personnel can always be seen on duty. The khaki uniform or camouflage green uniforms of CISF personnel may remind you of an army unit. You can easily see the letters CISF emblazoned on the left shoulder and the corresponding Hindi letters on the right shoulder that sets them apart from the armed forces uniform.

Special Protection Group: The SPG is mainly put in place for the security of the Prime Minister of India. You can identify them by their trade mark safari suits in summer. On special occasions, the SPG commandos guard the area sporting guns in the open. The SPG not only guards the Prime Minister but also families of the senior-most executives. On special duty, they don black jackets and are seen armed with guns.

ITBP: The ITBP commandos are responsible for guarding the high security cells in Delhi’s Tihar Jail. The commando unit is used in mountainous regions for securing border outposts and also for patrolling duties on the Indo-China border. In 2005, the ITBP got a new uniform designed by NIFT. This uniform gels with the surroundings in snow-capped mountains where the ITBP is mostly deployed. Also, ITBP battalions are deployed in forest areas in the North-East region. Therefore, the uniform has shades of off-white, dark brown, light brown and light green. Prior to this, the ITBP personnel had only khaki uniform.

CRPF: The CRPF jawans are used for security when it comes to jungle warfare and high intensity operations. Well-trained in guerrilla warfare, their uniforms are such that they easily blend with the forests where they are posted. The olive green and brown colours on a khaki are hard to decipher. These jawans protect the civilians in Maoist affected areas. They are also responsible for security at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

first published:September 01, 2014, 13:49 IST
last updated:September 01, 2014, 13:49 IST