Unknown Facts About Most Elite And Covert Special Frontier Force

Hello Defence LoversSpecial Frontier Force (SFF)  also known as Establishment 22 is India’s most covert and elite Special Force unit which was established in 1962 with the original goal of conducting covert operations behind the Chinese Lines in the event of another Sino-Indian War. With this article we will talk about some unknown facts about this elite special force.




  • It was also called Establishment 22 because its first Inspector General, Major General Sujan Singh Uban (Retd.) of Indian Army, was used to be commander of 22 Mountain Regiment during World War II.
  • Although India has the Parachute Regiment which is the airborne infantry regiment of the Indian Army consisting of 8 Special Forces battalions, dating back to World War II. Experts say that the first true and best special force of an independent India was the Special Frontier Force (SFF), which recruited exiled Tibetans, in 1962.
  • Special Frontier Force which is based in Chakrata, Uttarakhand is the armed wing of RAW
  • It was first put under the direct supervision of the Intelligence Bureau, and later, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s external intelligence agency.
  • The ethnic Tibetans were part of the modern Indian Army, their role was to patrol and police their native areas. They used to work as spies, intelligence agents and even covert militia in northern India and Tibet proper.
  • Mustang Base was established by the American Central Intelligence Agency and the Indian Intelligence Bureau in the 1950s in Mustang of Nepal where the Tibetans were trained in guerilla warfare.
  • These Mustang rebels were used to bring the 14th Dalai Lama to India during the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion.
  • Starting with a force of 12,000 men, the SFF commenced six months of training in rock climbing and guerrilla warfare. The Intelligence agencies from India and the US also helped in raising the force; namely CIA & RAW.
  • The SFF’s weapons were all provided by the US and consisted mainly of M-1, M-2 and M-3 machine guns.
  • Special Frontier Force unit established under the direct supervision of Prime Minister was under the operational command of IB and later R&AW.
  • It was primarily used for conducting intelligence gathering and commando operations along the Chinese Theatre. Initial training was conducted by the CIA paramilitary officers and the IB’s own special operations unit.
  • In 1968 SFF, with the help of the Aviation Research Centre which provided airlift facilities, became fully airborne-qualified and a dedicated mountain and jungle warfare unit.
  • Most of the SFF members are Gorkha Rifles members due to their bodies being able to perform much better in high altitudes against others.
  • SFF also carry out Counter-terrorism operations, Anti-Hijack operations and Trans-border joint operation with Indian Army Special Forces (airborne).
  • SFF is also employed by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for covert and sensitive missions.
  • Within the Special Frontier Force (SFF) there is Special Group (SG) which is an elite Special Operation Force (SOF) unit raised after India’s disastrous 1962 border war with China. The SFF and its SG served as models for the NSG-SAG combine.
  • Special Group is R&AW’s ultra-secret military unit for clandestine intelligence missions. The unit is considered the equivalent of CIA’s Special Activities Division.




Also Read, India’s Intelligence Agency RAW Operations Every Indian Must Know
Also Read, (Must Read) How RAW Played A Key Role For The Indian Navy During 1971 War
Also Read, 7 Bravest Operations Of Indian Special Forces You Should Know
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