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The Special Frontier Force (SFF) is a paramilitary unit of India. It was conceived in the post Sino-Indian war period as a guerrilla force composed mainly of Tibetan refugees whose main goal was to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in case of another war between the People’s Republic of China and India.
Based in Chakrata, Uttarakhand, SFF is also known as the Establishment 22. The force was put under the direct supervision of the Intelligence Bureau, and later, the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s external intelligence agency.
Ethnic Tibetans have been a part and parcel of the modern Indian Army for as long as it has existed. Independent formations of Tibetan (including Ladakhi, Bön, and Sikkimese) units were to patrol and police the lands they were native to. During the time of the Great Game, the British Indian Army began to employ Tibetans as spies, intelligence agents, and even covert militia in northern India and Tibet proper.
At the time of Indian independence, the Northern Hills of India remained the most isolated and strategically overlooked territory of the subcontinent. During the 1950s, the American Central Intelligence Agency and the Indian Intelligence Bureau established Mustang Base in Mustang in Nepal, which trained Tibetans in guerilla warfare. The Mustang rebels brought the 14th Dalai Lama to India during the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion.