New Delhi: For the first time in many years, the country's elite counter-terror force NSG has decided to pull out its over 900 commandos rendering VIP security duties and put them to perform specialist counter-terror and counter-hijack operations.
The 'black cat' commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG) are segregated into five units, two Special Action Groups (SAGs) manned by officers and jawans from the Army and three SRGs (Special Rangers Groups) comprising personnel from paramilitary forces.
While each of the two SAGs (51 and 52) are tasked for counter-terror and counter-hijack operations respectively, the SRGs (11,12 and 13) render logistical support to the SAGs during operations and are deployed for guarding high-risk VIPs/VVIPs.
Each unit has about 900 personnel.
According to the new blueprint prepared by the commando force under its last Director General Rajan K Medhekar, the 11 SRG will be taken out from its present task and converted into a regular SAG-like unit for undertaking specific counter-terror operations.
The new NSG chief Subhash Joshi has also put his officers on job to accomplish the task.
Sources privy to the development said the contingency force, with 15 VIPs/VVIPs under its security cover at present, has the lowest number of protectees after many years and the force decided to use this opportunity to return to its original charter of performing counter-terror, counter-hijack, hostage rescue and sky-marshalling duties onboard aircrafts.
"Two SRGs are enough for catering to the present number of protectees," they said.
NSG was raised under an Act of the Parliament in 1984 as a federal contingency force.
The commandos of the SRG unit will now be given extensive training in counter-terror operations by the Force Commander and IG (Training), both Brigadier and Major General rank officials of the NSG based at its garrison at Manesar in Gurgaon near here.
The plan, according to sources, is to raise this squad by next year and once the training is done the commandos of this new unit would only perform combat-terror operations.
"Considering NSG's expansion to the new hubs and keeping in mind the emerging trends in terrorism, the force needs more strength of commandos to undertake counter-terror operations," a senior NSG official said.
NSG commanders, according to the blueprint, foresee an event where simultaneous attacks could be launched at multiple centres in the country and then the commandos will have to be rushed in different directions.
"The 26/11 Mumbai attack involved about 400 commandos in three days.
Considering we have multiple terror hits at one go, we need to have a good number of fighting commandos and some in the reserves to replace them," they said.
The force also expects that with central paramilitary forces like CRPF, CISF and ITBP increasingly taking the load of VIP security, it could, in some more time, cull out the 12 SRG in a similar fashion to be deployed for counter-terror operations.
The forces' charter says that the primary role of NSG is "to combat terrorism in whatever form it may assume in areas where activity of terrorists assumes serious proportions, and the state police and other Central police forces cannot cope up with the situation.
"The NSG is a force specially equipped and trained to deal with specific situations and is therefore, to be used only in exceptional situations.
The force is not designed to undertake the functions of state police forces or other paramilitary forces of the Union of India.
The NSG, when it was raised, was modelled on the pattern of Foreign special forces like SAS of the UK and GSG-9 of Germany but it has now included the best practices of a few other elite forces over the years.