The Special Service Group (SSG), also known as Black Storks, because of their distinctive headgear, the unit is also known as Maroon Beret, are a special operations military unit of the Pakistan Army. They are a specialised unit primarily tasked with fourteen primary and special missions: Asymmetric warfare,Anti piracy,Special Operations,Counterproliferation, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, Underwater demolition, direct action, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism,Hydrographic reconnaissance, Amphibious reconnaissance and Personnel recovery. The SSG is an independent commando division of Pakistan Army. It is an elite special operations force similar to the United States Army Special Forces (Green Berets) and the British Army’s SAS. The SSG regularly conducts its exercises with U.S. Special Forces, PLA Special Operations Forces, and Special Air Service of United Kingdom.
Official numbers are put at 7,000 men, in 10 Battalions; however the actual strength is classified. It is estimated to have been increased to 7 Battalions, with the eventual formation of 3 Brigades of Special Forces (9 Battalions). It is currently commanded by Maj Gen Furrukh Bashir.
The commandos are distinguished by their insignia of maroon berets, a common color for airborne troops, with a silver metal tab on a light blue felt square with a dagger and lightning bolts, and a wing on the right side of the chest. The combat uniform of the SSG is similar to the US woodlandpattern camouflage coat and pants. Other uniforms include camouflage and black dungarees (for the CT team).
SSGN (SSG Navy) is distinguished by a dark blue beret with three versions of the “fouled anchor” navy badge for officers, NCOs and enlisted men. A metal SSGN qualification badge featuring a vertical dagger superimposed over a midget submarine is worn over the left pocket on dress uniforms. Parachute wings are worn over the right pocket.
The SSW (Special Service Wing) is distinguished by maroon berets with PAF Officer, JCO or Airmen insignia on the beret, and a wing on the right side of the chest. The combat uniform of SSW is olive drab camouflage. They also wear their special service wing insignia on the left shoulder “Winged Dragons and lightning bolts” .
19 Baluch (SSG)
SSG was raised by amalgamating 17/10th Baluch (19 Baluch) and 312 Garrison Company. Based out of Cherat and Attock, the SSG was created in 1956. That year, 19 Baluch was selected for conversion to a Special Operation Force. As a result of this, the SSG has inherited many of the traditions and insignia of the Baloch Regiment. 19 Baluch (SSG)’s first CO was Lt Col (later Maj Gen) Aboobaker Osman Mitha who commanded it for six years till 1961. The first Officer Commanding of
its Alpha Company was Major (later Lt Col) Gaideen Khan Abdullai Mahsud. Their initial training and orientation as regards tactics was based on the US Special Forces pattern with whom they co-operated closely in the Cold War years. The SSG initially had 6 companies and each company had specialization units, specialized in desert, mountain, ranger, and underwater warfare. The desert companies participated in training exercises with US Army Special Forces Mobile Training Team in late 1964. In August 1965, scope of SSG was raised from
a battalion size force to larger Special Operations outfit and instead of 19 Baluch(SSG) they simply adopted the name Special Service Group. The scuba company in Karachi was renowned for its tough physical training. Later on, Chinese training, tactics, weapons, and equipment were also introduced