National Security Guard: Are We Destroying Its Elitism?

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by Rage, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    National Security Guard: Are we destroying its elitism?

    The writer: Brig (Retd) V Mahalingam is a Defence Analyst based in New Delhi


    The Times of India reported that the National Security Guard (NSG) has pulled out around 900 of its commandos from VIP guarding duties and sent them for training in counter – terror operations as part of their original charter. The news would have cheered the Indian public on two counts. Firstly, guarding of VIPs by trained commandos is a monumental waste, such tasks being within the ambit of local police forces. Personnel from the NSG are specially selected and trained at great expense for a specialised counter terrorism role and using them for mundane security duties was counter-productive. The second count would pertain to the belief that this step would increase the counter terrorism capability and enhance the security of the environment. The latter hope is however misplaced.

    Reinventing a role for the Special Rangers Group

    The original charter of the NSG visualised an organisation consisting of five major units each with approximately 900 personnel besides other minor units. Of these, two were strike elements designated as the Special Action Groups (SAG): one for counter terrorism and the other with a counter-hijack role. The units are capable of interchanging their roles if the situation so warrants. Both these units were to be manned by hand picked Army personnel with on-ground soldiering experience from the various combat arms of the Army. The other three major units, titled the Special Rangers Group (SRG), were to be manned by personnel selected from the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). These units were meant to provide combat support to the SAGs by establishing cordons or securing a firm base in the event of a scenario as deemed necessary.

    The hidden aim of inducting the CAPF in the NSG stems from a desire of the bureaucracy and the political class to maintain a balance between the Army and the Central Police Forces in this elite force. The fabrication of the outfit in the present form was at the cost of tax payers’ money without any tangible benefit in terms of counter terrorism capability. The absurdity and impracticality of the idea were too overwhelming to be ignored.

    The NSG is a federal contingency force meant for deployment anywhere in the country. Every time an operation is planned, a huge SRG contingent, at least four to five times the strength of the strike elements would be required to be airlifted for establishing a cordon. In certain situations, a cordon may have to precede the surgical strike. Their actions may require police powers and local expertise in terms of knowledge of the area and local language, all of which the SRGs lack- simply because they are not supposed or expected to have these. The NSG is dependent on local police for logistics support, follow up investigations, legal-procedural action in terms of filing FIRs as well as producing witnesses and evidence. The security implications of mobilising such a huge force for a Special Forces operation are manifold. These issues have all along been an impediment in employing SRGs in counter terrorism operations. It is precisely for these reasons that the assistance of the local Army formation was sought to establish a cordon during the Hazratbal crisis in Kashmir in 1993. They were also not employed during the 26/11 terror strike in Mumbai.

    Consequently, at one point in time the SRGs were roleless and VIP security duties were invented to keep them going as a part of the NSG- a turf requirement
    . The fact that VIP security duties and Special Forces operations had nothing in common was of no significance. Now that some of the VIP security duties have been withdrawn, an effort is being made to re-reinvent a role for the SRGs by putting them through more expeditious counter terrorism training.

    Need for restructuring NSG

    The NSG’s strength at present approximates ten thousand troops, with four hubs spread across the country. Two regional centres are also proposed to be raised. Additional squadrons have already been added to both the SAGs and SRGs. Can we equip them with state of the art weapons and equipment? The efforts and funding required to train and maintain the logistics and skills of such a large force are colossal.

    We still do not appear to have grasped the essence of structuring or employing Special Forces. The strength of these forces does not lie in their numbers, as the powers that be seem to think. They are not meant to be employed on routine law and order or insurgency situations. Nor are they meant for neutralising common tactical targets like a militant or a criminal or capture weapons in an insurgency ridden area, and that too without intelligence back up. They are the instruments meant to carry out surgical strikes to neutralise or secure strategic objectives and undertake missions of national security or strategic importance. One of the reasons why this force is losing sight of its raison d'être and their near-CAPF status as part of the Home Ministry. Their demands for weapons and equipment get diluted when viewed collectively with the other forces. It is time this force is shifted under the Cabinet Secretariat preferably under a body created to coordinate Special Operations.

    Hubs and Numerical Strength

    Considering the number of operations launched by the NSG since its raising, troops employed in each of these and their time plot, do we really need such a large force, hubs and regional centres? Or do we need better logistics and delivery systems? Are they meant to handle both counter hijack and counter terrorist operations? Is it practicable? Will the time gained by positioning the hubs in various parts of the country make any difference in the launching a major anti terrorist operation of the type envisaged for Special Forces? Will they improve counter terrorism capability in the country? Delivering the NSG raising day lecture, the erstwhile National Security Advisor M K Narayana felt that creating four NSG hubs were redundant and unnecessary.

    Time Frame for Launching Special Operations

    When a mission is conceived, a tremendous amount of time and effort are required to gather process and produce the intelligence inputs needed to launch an operation. Forces require time to study the information, carry out reconnaissance, understand mission objectives, plan the operation, choose the weapons systems needed for the envisaged task, carry out rehearsals where necessary, deploy their strike elements and protective elements at selected locations and be sure of certain critical issues before carrying out the strike. The strike will always be at a time of their choosing for tactical reasons. Operations cannot be rushed or pressure brought on the Force to act instantaneously. There are battle procedures and other means available to gain time in situations like 26/11 which needs to be applied scientifically and diligently. Operation “Neptune Spear” conducted by the DEVGRU of the US SEAL to get Bin Laden took over five years to mature and execute. We can take a few lessons from the operation.

    Need for Coordination and Support

    However talented and trained a special force may be, it needs the support and backup of the state government, local police and the intelligence community besides the other security forces and agencies within the country. All these elements need to have trained alongside to achieve synergy. An apex body like the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the US with necessary authority is needed to requisition and coordinate all necessary efforts. The confusion that prevailed outside the Taj Hotel in Mumbai during Operation Black Tornado is not permissible in the future.

    Leadership

    Another important aspect pertains to the leadership of the Force. While junior officers will have to have adequate operational experience besides professional training, the head of this organisation will have to have practical on ground experience of leading troops and conducting operations at the formation level. Police officers undoubtedly have good knowledge of law and order and security issues, but lack practical experience in conducting military-style operations of a counter terrorism or counter hijack role. Army Officers, on the other hand, particularly from the Infantry, gain this experience throughout their service starting from the platoon level. There can be no compromise on experience in a Special Force.

    Conclusion

    Special Forces cannot be allowed to multiply or bloat the way the Central Armed Police Forces have done in our country. Turf issues and aspirations cannot be allowed to determine or undermine their [true] role and structure. Elitism, superior tactics and skills, state of the art weaponry and logistical equipment- and not numbers- will dictate the outcome of strategic and security operations. These Forces are of little value if not supported by every single organ of the security, intelligence and yes, even bureaucratic apparatus of the country. That will require the creation of a nodal authority- to demand, employ and coordinate such resources.

    The strike elements in the NSG are as good as, if not better, than some of the world’s leading Special Forces. Failure to keep politics out in the matter of structuring, training, employing and providing resources to the elite Special Forces may cost the nation dearly at a crucial moment.


    The Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)
     
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  3. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Thanks for posting article

    And thanks to our politicans to bring NSG to such state
     
  4. Snuggy321

    Snuggy321 Regular Member

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    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  5. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    Excellent news! This is the way forward for the NSG.

    In an ideal world, the commandos would have a force structure that resembles that of the Tri Services: an Air officer Commanding-in-Chief, Garud; a General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Para Commandos; a Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, MARCOs; and a General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, SAG. With the Chief Commanding Officer selected from among these by appointment.

    The Special Frontier Force/Establishment 22 should remain separate in my opinion.
     
  6. abingdonboy

    abingdonboy Senior Member Senior Member

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    I agree- the NSG's SAG units are the best of the best. The SRG elemant, to me, is redundant these days. Maybe it was a requirment back in the 80s when local police were [email protected] but now there are well trained, well equipped ERT/SRT in almost every state/city the local police are able to do much of what the SRG are tasked with in a strike op ie cordons, rear security. The NSG should be pruned to just the SAG and some support assets (not SRG) responsible for logisitcs and the like. If it is nessercary the SRG can be made a completly seperate VVIP protection force but they should have 0 interaction with the NSG. The NSG needs to stay true to its orginal mandate- CT ops, that should be all it handles. In the 10,000 strong force barely 2,000 will be actual "shooters" the best of the best, those kicking in the door and taking the fight to the enemy, the rest are just fluff, surplus to requirements. And this is actually incredibly destrucitive and corrosive as it does dilute the ethos of the force and creates a class system within the NSG itself wherein the SAG and SRG elemants are so removed from each other that they only co-exist on paper.
     
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  7. policeofficer

    policeofficer New Member

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    This Army officer should understand that there are very crucial difference between Police commandos and Army commandos. While army commandos specialise jungle warfare, surviving off the land, field craft etc. NSG commandos are trained in fighting in urban or rural situations where the terrorists operate. NSG training places special emphasis on techniques of scaling the building, rappelling, forced entry into buildings etc. While the Bomb Disposal Squad of army usually specialises commando aerial bombs (with war in sight), NSG commandos specialise in IEDs used by terrorists. Even weapons used by army and police commandos are different. Army commandos use long range infantry rifles, where as NSG uses sub-machine guns (HK MP5) to engage with terrorists at short ranges.
    If these army officers are so much interested in national security, then they should think about building the capability of police forces, instead of serving their organisational interests. Very Lt.Gen.(Retd.)Prakash Katoch wrote in IDSA that entire paramilitary should be controlled by MoD instead of MHA. They are of the belief that police officers are inherently incapable, always try to downgrade the police forces instead of looking ways to improve their capabilities. If a local policeman is deputed to NSG he will take with him very rich experience in CI/CT ops which would benefit the state police. Army is never going to use CQB in warlike situation, so the experience gained by them in NSG is redundant. Also, NSG is not a Special Force per se. The term SF should be used by armed forces commandos only (Maroon berets, MARCOs, Garuds) etc. NSG should be aptly called as a SWAT team.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  8. policeofficer

    policeofficer New Member

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    CI/CT ops. must be conducted only by State Police/CAPF only. Army lacks proper orientation for CI/CT ops. Remember Op Bluestar when army stormed temple complex with tanks and howitzers. This led the insurgency/terrorism in Punjab to gain a firmer foothold. Then, it is the police leadership that ended the terrorism. Army frequently tends to resort to 'overkill' and as a result, the strategic objectives of CI ops gets affected. Even Op. at Charar-e-Sharief also shows this. Army should be allowed to do its basic job for preparation for regular war. One of the important aims of a terrorist or insurgent organisation is to bleed the govt. economically white, and we should not allow to do it. Economically, an army soldier costs more than thrice a policeman wielding the same weapon. With the knowledge of law, and the background and outlook of a police officer, they are far less likely to commit mistakes in CI/CT ops. Elite SWAT units throughout the world are composed of police officers only. There is no substitute to the immense knowledge of a local policeman. So NSG should be under the control of police leadership and both SAG and SRG should be made of police personnel only. Capability is not inherent, it should be built by training and education. There is no reason to believe that a policeman cannot be trained and educated. This issue is already discussed by NC Asthana and Anjali Nirmal in their book "Terrorism, Insurgencies and Counter-Insurgency Operations".
     
  9. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    SWAT are more in use for high risk profile mission which the police officer may not undertake such as encounters, anti drug raid, escort of notorious criminals. Even Russia has similar concept with the SOBR they are the first one to react also to terror attacks. France has the RAID/ GIPN.
    All these countries have elite police force to counter high criminality, hostage rescue etc.

    However, having said that it should be mentioned that the premier anti terror force in USA is Delta Force, Russia Alfa and UK its SAS. In high profile anti terror mission you cannot send the police officer, thus the need for army people highly trained and motivated.

    NSG indeed is no longer being an elite force with 10,000 force its no longer the best of best. For Russia the Alfa force which is their best numbers only 750. so points to ponder upon
     
  10. policeofficer

    policeofficer New Member

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    Thank you for your comments.
    First of all, we should understand the various stages involved in a "Classical Insurgency". Experts have divided the insurgencies into 4 phases after studying the histories/experiences of various countries. They are (a)Organisational/Subversive Stage (b) Terrorism Stage (c) Guerrilla Warfare Stage (d) Mobile/Conventional Warfare Stage. In India, J&K militants and NE insurgents are in terrorism stage. Punjab terrorism got matured to Guerilla Warfare Stage but it soon got reverted back to terrorism stage and perished. LTTE is a classical example of an organisation that reached Mobile/Conventional Warfare Stage. Currently, Naxals are in the third stage. In the first three stages, experts argue that the counter-insurgents should be police officers. All terrorists have some motive and terrorism is one of the stages of insurgency. For the fourth stage (currently ISIS guys are in this stage) we cannot expect the police to do anything. At this stage the insurgents will hold a ground and even raise a regular army of their own. So army should be called only at this stage. In India, all insurgencies are far from the mobile warfare stage.
    In USA, when there is a terrorist strike or a terrorist is found holed in a house or when there is someone held as a hostage, SWAT teams (made of police officers) of Federal/State police forces are called. Same is the case with other countries like UK, Germany, France, Israel etc. In India NSG should be utilised for this purpose, and for this NSG hubs should be located in all major cities. NSG was created for this purpose.
    Developed countries (like US or UK) will not get involved in the business of other countries if the insurgency is in one of the first 3 stages. When the insurgency swells into 4th stage, they will start with some air strikes followed by sending a judicious mix of regular troops and in specially selected pockets and specially selected missions, they will involve US Delta Forces or UK SAS (a part of army). You will understand this if you see the list of operations done by US Delta Forces (which, as you said, is made up of army personnel) in wikipedia. You'll also see that US Delta, German GIGN, UK SAS is never used for homeland anti-terrorist operations. This job of Delta, SAS, GIGN etc. are very difficult, because you operate in a foreign land and (as you said) you need people with high training and motivation and you cannot use police officers.
    In my opinion there is no Indian equivalent to US Delta, because Indian never gets involved in the business of other countries, but some special units like Rashtriya Rifles can be easily moulded to do the job in foreign land. Also we have IN MARCOs, IAF Garuds, IA paratroopers.
    Also elitism of a force cannot be determined on the no. of operators but based on the profile of operators, their selection, training, successful operations, kill rate etc.
    My contention is that NSG should be composed of police personnel and COIN operations should be done by police personnel. A COIN operator in the first three stages of Insurgency must adopt the motto of Goethe: "Ohne Hast, Ohne rast" i.e. without haste, without rest.
     

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