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Special Service Group Navy
Pakistan Navy Special Service Group member silhouetted aboard Pakistan Navy Ship PNS Babur.jpg
A member of Pakistan Navy Special Service Group is silhouetted by the setting sun aboard Pakistan Navy Ship PNS Babur (D 182) while under way in the Arabian Sea November 25, 2007.
Active 1966;- Present
Country  Pakistan
Branch Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg Pakistan Navy
Type Special Operations Force

Primary tasks:

  • Special reconnaissance
  • Direct Action

Other roles:

  • Foreign internal defense
  • Unconventional warfare
  • Security assistance
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Counter-drug operations
  • Personnel recovery
  • Hydrographic reconnaissance
Size Classified
Part of Naval Strategic Forces Command
Joint Strategic Forces Command
Garrison/HQ Cherat, Khyber-Pakthunkhwa Province
Karachi Sindh Province
Nickname(s) SSG[N), The Frogmen, The Quieter Professionals (than the army)
Motto(s) Let It not be Said That we did not prove up to the Task
Anniversaries Navy Day: September 8
Engagements Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Bangladesh Liberation War
Operation Barisal
Operation Southern Door
Operation Madad-I
War in North-West Pakistan
Operation Black Thunderstorm
Operation Rah-e-Nijat
Operation Mehran
Decorations Awards and decorations of the Pakistan military
ADM Afzal Tahir
ADM Shahid Karimullah

The Special Service Group Navy,[1] codename SSG(N), are the Pakistan Navy's elite principal special operations naval force component.[2] Together with the special forces of air force, army (including army rangers), naval marines, they form Pakistan Special Operations Command (P-SOC) under the joint administrative control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of the Pakistan Defence Forces. The SSG(N) are often trained to conduct sea-air-land incursion, counter-terrorism, naval intelligence gathering, hostage rescue, and boarding.[2] The SSG(N) are deployed in a wide variety of missions, including direct action and special reconnaissance operations, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, and other missions.[2] Without exception, all SSG(N) are male active-duty members of the Pakistan Navy.[2] The details of most SSG(N) missions are highly secretive, and the identities of operatives are kept classified.[2] SSG(N) are often compared to the US Navy SEALs and Britain's Special Boat Service.[2]

Official numbers place the strength between 700 to 1,000 however the actual strength is classified. During the training of the SSG(N) teams, the SSGN teams are occasionally sent to US Navy SEALs training school to conduct its training and exercises in special warfare training with US Navy SEALs.[3]


Birth and 1971 Indo-Pakistan war

After the Indo-Pak 1965 September War, the Pakistan Navy, under advise of U.S. Navy, decided to create its own Special warfare unit, the Naval Special Services Group(SSGN) in 1966.[4] In 1966, the Government of Pakistan had been long aware of expansion of Indian Navy, and recognized the need for unconventional warfare and special operations as a measure against Indian Eastern Command in East Pakistan.[5] Therefore the Navy organized the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) tasked with gathering intelligence while operating the Midget submarine.[5] Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan personally took initiatives to established this unit within the Navy.[5] Admiral Ahsan needed to determine its scope of operations and decided to established the guerrilla and counter-guerrilla warfare units within the Navy.[5] The UDT teams were utilize into special operations units and were trained by the Pakistan Army's Special Forces on missions relating air or land, and sea by Navy's specialized weapons system school.[5] The commando teams were to be trained in unconventional warfare such as armed forces diving, high-altitude parachuting, demolitions, foreign languages and the intelligence management for the intelligence services.[6] By 1967, the United States had finally lifted the embargo therefore allowing the United States Navy SEALs to provided their training and operational techniques to the SSG(N) as they were selected by the U.S. Government as per request of Admiral S. M. Ahsan.[5] The first UDT course took place in Naval Dockyard, followed by armed diving at PNS Himalaya; thirdly the combat training (both weapon, hand-to-hand and language qualifications and intelligence management) at PNS Iqbal— the naval base now served as the headquarter of SSG(N).[6] Training facilities were constructed in Karachi, Peshawar by the Navy and Cherat by Army, and training of first commando unit was launched.[6] By 1969, then-Governor of East Pakistan Admiral Ahsan, deployed the entire formation of Navy Group in East Pakistan initially tasked with monitoring Indian efforts near the borders of East Pakistan while serving as advisors to the East-Pakistan military. The hydrographic surveys was taken during this time and the Eastern Command identified East Pakistan recognized as the "potential hot spot for unconventional forces".[6] The Army special forces were difficult to deploy in East as they were in constant intelligence war with India in West, therefore the Navy Group took the charge of intelligence and special operations in the East. Confrontations with Mukti Bahini were direct.[citation needed] The Navy Group, first launching the Operation Barisal, had driven the Bahini back to India which was seen a quiet a success but it was temporary.[citation needed] Intensified battle began to take place in East Pakistan Mukti Bahini with the support of Indian Army.[7] In mid of 1971, the Mukti Bahini and Indian Army orchestrated a major offensive against East Pakistan government: the "Operation Jackpot".[8] The Mukti Bahini and Indian Army hoped to sabotage the Pakistan's military assets in East Pakistan and further demoralized the government. The Navy Group responded by taking aggressive military measure and deploying the Navy Group in combat areas.[9] The operation was considered successful for Mukti Bahini and Indian Army but not all operations were successful only tactical results were achieved.[10][11] As for Navy Group's performance, its combat performances were successful in terms of eliminating the Mukti Bahini units and inflicting the heavy human casualties, but the collateral damage for Navy's assets including the Navy Group was extremely high that further hampered the capability of Navy to conduct any operations in the conflict.[12] In 1971, the Instrument of Surrender was proceeded, all joint-conventional forces surrendered to Indian Army; the last SSG(N) advisors surrendered to Indian Army in East Paksitan in December 1971 and East Pakistan succeeded as Bangladesh after falling to the Mukti Bahini.

Post war and current history

Naval SSG conducting a force-protection and under-water special forces training with their USN counterpart, the U.S. Navy SEALs.

The poor performances in 1971 war led the decommissioning of the Marines from their services, although Navy kept its special forces programme. Adopting new defence policy in 1974, the Joint Strategic Forces Command was established under Joints Chiefs and the combat training began with the Pakistan Army. Many of army special forces officers were drafted to Navy to provide the military training. Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Sajjad Ali Shah, was among the notable drafted officers from army's Special Service Group (SSG) officers into the Navy. Earlier, Shah was selected and sent to the United States in 1974 to undergo the U.S. Navy Sea, Air, and Land training, commonly known as the Navy SEALs. After the successful completion of the world's toughest course, he was selected for basic underwater demolition course at amphibious base, Coronado, CA. On returning to Pakistan, he was given the task of raising Navy commando unit in Karachi and subsequently drafted into Navy. Shah, now as Commander, also took part in formulating and implementing new ideas in SSG(N). As of today, the SSG(N) teams are currently participating in recent insurgencies in Pakistan, and provide vital support of Army and Air Force's Special Operations.


The current SSG(N) headquarters are based in Karachi, Sindh. They were modeled on the American Navy SEALs and the British Special Boat Service (SBS) as U.S. SEALS had supervised their training. It is tasked with unconventional warfare operations in the coastal regions. During the time of war, it is assigned Midget submarines to conduct offensive and defensive operations against enemy ports, ships and naval facilities. SSG(N) are also trained in underwater demolition, clearance and diving. The initial training is similar to the Army's SSG and Air Force's SSW, they also provides HALO training to the SSG(N). All of the candidates belonging to Pakistan Marines, SSG of Army and SSW of Air Force are trained together. After their training and graduation from special warfare operations, all of the officers are asked join either Forces (Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy) where they have to complete few special operations courses which last 2–3 weeks. After which specific marine oriented training is provided at, PNS Iqbal, which is the SSG(N) headquarters located in Karachi. Some students are sent to United States for specialist courses.[4] Since 1970s the SSG(N) holds joint exercises with the U.S. Navy SEALs and the Imperial Iranian Navy.[4]

Selection process and training

Because the members of SS(N) are sent to be trained with United States Navy SEALs, the training for SSG(N) are tough and very rigorous, and one of the toughest training programme in the world.[2] Officers and sailors who are volunteering to join the Navy's SSG(N) force, are expected to language qualified, and must be college graduate.[2] The drop-out rate for SSG(N) classes are over 80-90%.[2] Those who are failed to make for SSG(N) are return to regular jobs in Navy. The SSG(N) are trained to carry and conduct clandestine operations, hidden from media and outside world.[2] Unlike the army, SSG(N) operations are clandestine and highly secretive.[2] All of these volunteers are fully understood that achievements made by SSG(N) members are not to be celebrated in navy.[2] The Army's SSG force and the Air Force's SSW force have to go the same basic training which is run by the Army in Cherat. All soldiers volunteering to join any of these forces including the SSG-N must have at least two years of prior military experience and volunteer from other formations for three-year assignments with the SSGN(N); Non-commissioned officers and enlisted men volunteer from other formations to serve permanently in the SSG(N).

All trainees must participate in an eight-month courses which includes 36-mile march or more in 12 hours, a grueling requirement that was first institutionalized by 19 Baluch regiment. They are also required to run 5 miles in 40 minutes with full gear, fully loaded. The last leg of the course, involves Airborne training at Parachute Training School. This part lasts for four weeks and all recruits must pass this course and wings are attained after conducting 5 day and 2 night static-line jumps. A large number of the SSGN operators are also HALO/HAHO qualified.

Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) Team Lieutenant Khalid, from Pakistan Naval Ship (PNS) Tariq's (DDG 181) prepares to board a CRRC (Combat Rubber Raiding Craft) during a drill in the Gulf of Oman.

Once the 8 month course is complete, troops who are volunteering to join the SSGN are then given specialized training in maritime and amphibious warfare at the specialized training school located in Karachi. Some are also send to the United States and United Kingdom for specialized training with the US Navy SEALs and the British SBS.

Combat Diver badge is awarded for the course held by the Naval Special Services Group SSGN. Three classes of combat swimmers were recognized: 1st class to those completing an 18-mile or more swim in designated time period; 2nd class to those finishing a 12-mile swim; and 3rd class for a 6-mile swim.


The role of the SSG(N) members are predominantly focused on the littoral and riverine domain and are capable in mounting coastal and covert beach reconnaissance which could include covert assault route preparation in advance of amphibious assault and recovery or protection of ships and oil installations subject to hostile state or non-state (terrorist) action. They are also trained in Maritime Counter-Terrorism, assault on verified targets and the protection of VIPs. They have a worldwide operations mandate, and were involved in extracting Indians from MV Suez, who had been held hostage by pirates. Their deployment and nature of operations, currently remains classified, so as Pakistan focuses on its sister service (SSG Army), the Naval SSG has been allowed to move deeper into the shadows.


PNS Iqbal is the commanding headquarter of commander SSG(N). The commander SSG(N) is placed under the command of Commander Coastal areas.

SSG(N) are divided into three sub commands.

  • PNS IQBAL - Commanding Headquarter of SSG(N)
  • Pakistan Navy SEALs - The SEAL Group is the main stay of SEAL group. The primary objective of this team is clandestine operation in enemy’s waters without detection and Exit Trunk operation in the enemy’s waters. The Navy SEALs also participated in both Operation Black Thunderstorm and Operation Rah-e-Nijat commenced by the Pakistan Army.
  • VBSS Team - The VBSS Group is a special members of navy who are specialized in driving the watercraft and boats. The VBBS Group's consist of modern fast speedboats with integrated sensors and equipments.
  • Anti-Terrorist Teams - The Anti-Terrorist Group (AAG) is the main organization that was developed to counter the terrorist threats. Its members are regularly trained with Army's SSG component.


SSG(N) is distinguished by a dark maroon beret with golden insignia featuring 'Sword superimposed over Wings and a Star' badge for officers, NCOs and enlisted men, worn over the left pocket on dress uniforms.[4] A metal SSGN Midget qualification badge featuring a vertical dagger superimposed over a midget submarine is worn over the left pocket on dress uniforms. Commando wings are worn over the right pocket.[4]


Machine guns

Assault rifles

Sub-machine guns

  • Heckler& Koch UMP45  Germany
  • Heckler& Koch MP5  Germany
  • P 90  Belgium


Sniper rifles

Anti Tank rocketlaunchers

  • RPG7  Soviet Union



Bullet Proof Jacket/Armor

See also


  1. The Special Service Group Navy was established by the United States Navy SEALs in 1966. The SSG(N) or SSG-N is known with other names. There are also known as "Pakistan Naval SEALs", "Naval Special Service Group", "Naval Commandos (Pakistan Navy)"
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 "Special Service Group (Navy)". Karachi, Sindh: Dawn News. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Pakistan Navy Special Forces Global Special Forces
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Goldrick, James (1997). No Easy Answers. New Delhi: Lancer's Publications and Distributors. ISBN 1-897829-02-7. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Government of Pakistan, Navy Press Release. "Special Service Group (Navy)". The Directorate-General for the Naval Inter-Services Public Relations (Navy ISPR). Naval Inter-Services Public Relations (Navy ISPR). Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  7. Jacob, Lt. Gen. J. F. R., Surrender at Dacca, Birth of A Nation, pp. 43-44
  8. Surrender at Dacca: Birth of A Nation, Jacob, Lt. Gen. J. F. R., p. 90
  9. Niazi, Lt. Gen. A. A. K., The Betryal of East Pakistan, p. 184
  10. Rahman, Md. Khalilur, Muktijuddhay Nou-Abhijan, p. 94
  11. Rahman, Md. Khalilur, Muktijuddhay Nou-Abhijan, pp. 220–223
  12. Islam, Maj. Rafiqul, A Tale of Millions, p. 298

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