The National Security Guard (NSG) is headed for a restructuring. The elite force, modelled on the SAS of UK and GSG 9 of Germany was raised as a federal contingency force in 1984 for meeting all facets of challenges emerging from terrorism. However, over a period of time the force has become bulky and is overweighed by the responsibility of VIP protection rather than focussing on anti-terrorist operations. Personal protection of VIPs was not exactly the type of tasking envisaged for the NSG during its conceptualisation.
The government has decided to hand over the VIP protection task to CRPF and CISF. These forces already look after the security of certain high risk VIPs. Recently, the security of ex PM Manmohan Singh and his wife, Sonia Gandhi, as also Rahul and Priyanka were transferred to the CRPF.
The initial organisation of the force catered for two fundamentally different tasks undertaken by the Special Action Group and Special Rangers Group. The Special Action Groups were raised and manned entirely by army volunteers and were to be used for anti-terror and anti-hijack tasks. The force was raised with two such groups, each headed by a Colonel from the Army. In addition 3 Special Ranger Groups were raised with CAPF manpower to provide support to the operations by the SAGs.
The VIP protection task given to NSG has been primarily executed by these SRGs, which are composed of personnel from the Central Armed Police Forces and State Police. Currently there are three SRG Groups, with a strength of approximately 1000 men. Two of these groups are performing VIP Protection duties under the newly created Close Protection Force under an IPS DIG and one is supporting Counter Terror operations of the SAGs under the pruned down Counter Terrorist Force headed by an Army Brigadier.
In the wake of the Mumbai 2008 carnage, the NSG was expanded by deploying Special Composite Groups in its hubs at Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Gandhinagar. NSG also has a Training Centre which includes the National Bomb Data Centre that keeps a track of all bomb/ IED attacks in the country.
With the decision to hand over the personal protection duties to CAPFs, the personal protection vertical is by and large infructuous. The Close Protection Force and HQ staff dealing with VIP Protection could be disbanded and the manpower readjusted to meet the existing CAPF/ IPS deficiencies. NSG will be able to focus on its initially conceived task of anti-terror and anti-hijack operations.
The NSG Training facilities are used for initial screening of volunteers and training them as commandos, with special courses on Counter Terror, Counter IED and VIP protection duties. Till the time the CRPF/ CISF establish a similar facility the NSG could continue to train the VIP protection personnel of the CAPF and thereafter focus only on Counter Terror/ Counter Hijack/ Counter IED training.
With this restructuring NSG would emerge as a lean mean fighting machine with a sharper focus on CT/ CH/ CIED domains in which it envisions itself as ‘A world class Zero Error Force’ as enunciated in the NSG Vision statement of 2017.
Brig SK Chatterji (Retd)
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