Armed Forces Special Operations Division
Armed forces logo.png
Active28 September 2018 (established)
November 2019 – present (operational)[1]
Country India
TypeSub-unified combatant command
RoleSpecial Operations Forces
Size3,000 (estimate)
Part ofIntegrated Defence Staff[2]
HeadquartersAgra or Bengaluru (TBD)[2]
Maj. Gen. A. K. Dhingra

The Armed Forces Special Operations Division (AFSOD) is a tri-service command of the Indian Armed Forces. The division is tasked to carry out special operations. The AFSOD draws personnel from all three special warfare branches of the Armed Forces.[3]

Indian Army Major General A. K. Dhingra, who is a war veteran from the Para SF, was appointed in May 2019 as the first head of the AFSOD. [4] The division is expected to be converted into a full sized tri-service command in future.



The Naresh Chandra Task Force was set up in July 2011 by National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon to review the recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee, assess the implementation progress and further suggest new reforms related to national security.[5][6] The task force was led by Naresh Chandra, retired Indian Administrative Service officer, and comprised 13 other members, including Gopalaswami Parthasarathy, Air Chief Marshal Srinivasapuram Krishnaswamy (Retd), Admiral Arun Prakash (Retd), Lieutenant General V. R. Raghavan (Retd), Anil Kakodkar, K. C. Verma and V. K. Duggal. The committee conducted the first holistic review of national security since the Kargil Review Committee and submitted its classified report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 23 May 2012.[7] Among its recommendations, the Task Force recommended the creation of a cyber command, an aerospace command and a special operations command. All three units were proposed to be tri-service commands in order to bring the various special forces units of the military under a unified command and control structure.[8][9] The AFSOD is a downsized implementation of this proposal.[1]

The creation of the AFSOD was approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Combined Commanders' Conference at Jodhpur Air Force Station on 28 September 2018.[10]

Initial exercises

The division concluded its first exercise, code named 'Smelling Field', on 28 September 2019.[11] The exercise was carried out in the district of Kutch in the state of Gujarat.[12] The exercise was meant to help in ironing out, and subsequently addressing the challenges faced by the division.[13]

A second exercise, code named 'DANX-2019', was subsequently held in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.[14]


The AFSOD will function under the Integrated Defence Staff.[2] Units from all the three special forces of the Indian Armed Forces will be stationed in the division.[3] The division is expected to be fully operational by November 2019.[1]


The AFSOD is expected to serve as the main organisation responsible for carrying out special operations within and outside India.[2] They are expected to carry out missions such as targeting high-value installations and degrading the war-fighting capabilities of hostile nations.[15] The rationale behind the creation of this division is to pool the special abilities of each of the special forces units of the Armed Forces and enable them to operate together.[16][1] The division will also help in reducing operational costs, since it will enable each of the special warfare units to utilise common equipment.[11]


The division is expected to have around 3,000 soldiers, though the exact number remains classified.[17] The main components of the AFSOD are:[3]


Jammu and Kashmir

On 24 November 2019, the AFSOD was operationally deployed for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir to conduct counter-insurgency operations in the region.[22][14]

See also

Integrated entities
Other nations
General concepts


  1. ^ a b c d Pandit, Rajat (15 May 2019). "Agencies take shape for special operations, space, cyber war". Times News Network. Retrieved 25 September 2019 – via The Times of India.
  2. ^ a b c d "Major General A K Dhingra appointed as the first Special Operations Division Commander". Asian News International. 15 May 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2019 – via The Economic Times.
  3. ^ a b c Peri, Dinakar (16 May 2019). "Centre names officers for tri-service divisions". The Hindu. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  4. ^ ANI (15 May 2019). "Maj Gen A K Dhingra appointed as the first Special Operations Division Commander". Business Standard India. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  5. ^ Joshi, Manoj (22 November 2013). "Shutting his ears to change". India Today. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  6. ^ Joshi, Manoj (March 2014). "Policy Report: The Unending Quest to Reform India's National Security System" (PDF). S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  7. ^ "All eyes on Naresh Chandra report on natl security today". 23 May 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  8. ^ Kanwal, Gurmeet; Kohli, Neha, eds. (2018). Defence Reforms: A National Imperative (PDF). Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. ISBN 978-93-86618-34-4. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  9. ^ Singh, Mayank (16 May 2019). "Formation of Indian armed forces' special operations unit begins, to have 3000 commandos". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  10. ^ "PM Narendra Modi attends Combined Commanders' Conference in Jodhpur". The Economic Times. 28 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Special Ops Division carries out wargames near Pakistan border". Asian News International. 29 September 2019. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  12. ^ Negi, Manjeet Singh (29 September 2019). "Armed Forces Special Ops Division carry out war games near Pakistan border". India Today. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  13. ^ Nayak Dutta, Amrita (28 September 2019). "New tri services special ops division, meant for surgical strikes, finishes 1st exercise today". ThePrint. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Army, Navy, Air Force Special Forces deployed jointly to hunt terrorists in Kashmir valley". Asian News International. 24 November 2019. Retrieved 24 November 2019 – via The Times of India.
  15. ^ "Armed Forces Special Operations Division formed: The best of the Armed Forces". The Financial Express. 15 May 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  16. ^ Philip, Snehesh Alex (15 May 2019). "India gets new Special Ops Division that can cripple targets miles inside enemy territory". ThePrint. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  17. ^ Roche, Elizabeth (15 May 2019). "Govt initiates steps to create special forces division". Mint. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  18. ^ a b Datta, Rahul (18 January 2019). "India to raise its own SEALs". The Pioneer. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  19. ^ "INS Abhimanyu". Indian Navy. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  20. ^ "IAF to form commando force to protect airbases". Press Trust of India. 1 October 2002. Retrieved 25 September 2019 – via The Times of India.
  21. ^ "Brief: Garuds (IAF Special Forces)". Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 15 January 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  22. ^ Negi, Manjeet Singh (24 November 2019). "Army, Navy, IAF special forces deployed in Kashmir to hunt terrorists". India Today. Retrieved 24 November 2019.