Pakistan’s elite special forces unit the SSG has been listed as the best special forces group, ahead of units such as US Navy Seals and British Special Air Service (S.A.S) group. The list by Business Insider Australia ranked them as the best of nine of the top elite forces from around the world. There may be no real bearing to that ranking, however, SSG still has a lot of things going on that makes them a powerful force to contend with.
The word SSG stands for “Special Service group”.
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The SSG or Special service group is The main special operations task force of the Pakistan army. While the rest of the army is well trained in regular combat situations. But these SSG commandos are skilled in special skills like counterintelligence, counter-terrorism, and covert operations.
Its headquarter is located in Cherat ( The Eagles Nest ). Cherat is a hill station in Nowshehra district of KPK. But all its anti-terrorism units are trained and located in Tarbela cantonment.
The SSG is commanded by a Major-General and divided into eight battalions. Each battalion has around 700 men and four companies. Each company is split into platoons. Each platoon is divided into ten men teams. Each battalion is commanded by a lieutenant colonel.
The earlier thought process of hiring recruits was to spend as little time training them as possible. They did this because in the earlier years after gaining freedom from Britain, Pakistan was not very rich.
It had to cut a lot of corners and the SSG was first called the 19th battalion when it was created in 1956. After combining the 7th and 10th ballots regiment and the 312 garrison company. The SSG’s initial training and orientation regarding tactics were based on the US special forces program. Because they were cooperating with them closely within the cold war.
The SSG initially had six companies and each company had specialization units, specialized in desert mountain ranger and underwater warfare. Later on Chinese training tactics, weapons and equipment were also included.
The SSG used gorilla tactics to fight off their enemies and use elements of surprise whenever and wherever they could. They specialized in counter-terrorism operations where the fighters have to be very still and very stealthy.
Their first major deployment came during the Indo-Pak war of 1965. By the year 1971, The SSG had grown to three battalions with one permanently stationed in East Pakistan.
The training program has evolved over the years. It incorporates many new elements of modern warfares. But some things have remained the same. The SSG officers must have at least two years prior to military experience. They should be a volunteer from other formations for two years assignments with the SSG. Non commissioned officers and enlisted men volunteer from other formations to serve permanently in the SSG.
All trainees must participate in a nine-month SSG basic training course. The training is held on different stations according to the type of specific portion. For Example, when you join in the course, you will stay at the base of Cherat mountains. This camp calls Jalozai camp. You will spend six weeks here. During these Initial weeks, they will just rub your nose to test your Patience. 18 to 22 hours a day harsh and rude physical activities. Most of the soldiers give up during these initial weeks. You are free to leave and go back to your formation, whenever your willpower ends.
After this, they will send you to Mangla Dam for swimming training. during the 4 weeks, you have to learn and pass the one-mile swimming test. After this, they will also test you for 500 meters swimming with full uniform and long shoes.
If you pass from here successfully, then there will be an endorsement route march. You have to walk for 400 kilometres with a weigh of 45 pounds on your shoulders. They give you 5 days to complete this.
In the next level, you stay at Attock fort for 4 weeks. You will learn Navigation and use of primary weapons. Physical punishments continue all the time. They will never let You sleep more than 3 or 4 hours, sometime not more than 20 minutes a day.
You will arrive in Cherat at the next level. In 5 weeks of this tough period, You will learn basic mountain warfare, repelling, etc. You have to pass 20 kilometres running test during this level. Also, there will be 7.5 kilometres test with 35 pounds of weight on your shoulders.
You will arrive at Peshawar Paratrooper school at the next level. during 4 weeks of the training, you will learn static line parachute jumps. After doing five daylight and one tactical jump in the dark night, you deserve to put paratrooper wing. But SSG wing is still at a distance.
From Peshawar, you will run for 85 kilometres with 25 pounds weight over your shoulders. They will give you 16 hours to complete. If you pass, then hard work is almost finished here.
In the next level, you will be again in the Jalozai camp. You will do a test exercise of 6 days. They will teach you Raid, Ambush and other special tactics. You have to execute those tactics in your test exercise. And at the last, they will take your survival test. I will not like to go in the details of this horrible experience.
If you are successful in all of the above levels then you have completed the SSG course. But there are still some conditions which will make you go back without an SSG wing.
During the period of this training, the instructors keep observing you. And they have full authority to make you fail without saying a single reason. They observe your habits, discipline, personality, and its weaknesses. What they see the most is how much you can sacrifice for your fellow soldier when you are in the worst conditions. If you are below the standards, they will send you back even on the very last day of your training. Selfish nature is not acceptable in this group.
SSG Cooperation with foreign special forces.
The rest of the world is moving in new ways of training so it is super important that interact with other countries and their ways of training. This is also good to keep the enemy tactics in mind. Because of these points, the SSG conducts annual exercises with Turkish special forces.
During the 1980s into the 1990s, SSG held many similar training exercises with US special forces also.
SSG Navy was created actually after the SSG army. After the Indo-Pak war of 1965, the Pakistan navy under the advice of the US Navy decided to create its own special warfare unit the SSGn in 1966.
By 1967 the United States finally lifted its embargo on Pakistan. Therefore allowing the US Navy seals to provide their training and operational techniques to the SSG navy.