Divided views on Special Forces unit

Divided views on Special Forces unit

Home Minister gave approval in haste to convey a message to the electorate

 Defence officials are divided on whether the Home Minister P Chidambaram took the right decision for Bangalore.

Highly placed sources in the Army say that the 2 PARA (SF) unit operating from the 106 Territorial Army Battalion at Benson Town in the city, is not the ideal force to counter terror attacks in urban areas and NSG is what the Home Minister should have ideally announced.

“The Army has a special forces unit in almost every major City. They are usually sent on peace missions to the United Nations (UN). The PARA (SF) unit is trained in combating insurgency and infiltration and not for the missions that involve taking on terrorists in cities,” sources opined.

Deprived of NSG

Army officials said that the whole issue has been politicised so much so that the City has been deprived of the right force, the NSG. It may be recalled that in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, the Centre had announced establishing NSG hubs across the country, but later backtracked and announced that only Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai would have such units.

Sources said that the Home Minister gave the go ahead for Special Forces unit in April as the polls were approaching. The announcement was made in haste to convey a message to the voters that UPA government is serious about security issues. Hopefully, after the completion of poll process and establishment of new dispensation at the Centre, the genuine needs of the City will be considered with a new perspective.

However, Colonel (Retd) Anil A Athale, a former Joint Director (War Studies Division), Ministry of Defence says that post Mumbai terror attacks, NSG is being projected as a suitable anti-terror force. “Every State has been demanding a NSG unit. But, the Special Forces unit of the Army has commando platoon and is capable of handling any anti-terror operations. What is needed is more than just a centralised force,” he felt.  He added that a large number of smaller units should be created to aid a centralised NSG force. “Army infantry units are well-equipped, but their weapons need to be upgraded. The Centre should have ordered a major inquiry commission led by experts from the Army and the Intelligence Bureau after the Mumbai attacks. This was not done” Col Athale observed.