Super NSG

The National Security Guard (NSG) celebrated its 25th anniversary last week as a counter terror force in the service of the nation. The most recent public memories of the NSG are associated with ‘Operation Black Tornado’ — the operation launched in November 2008 to fight the Pakistani sea-borne terrorists who attacked Mumbai. Clearly the NSG’s role is to provide the necessary specialised support to central or state police forces to tackle terrorism beyond their capabilities which it has measured up to. Otherwise the NSG, which also trains state police personnel in counter terror functions, has successfully inculcated this orientation on a broader scale among the law enforcement agencies around the country. The NSG undertook an exercise with the Indian Air Force commando group ‘Garuds’ last year  involving the use of helicopters for swift deployment which also developed an operational synergy between them.

The need for a counter terrorist force like the NSG was felt soon after the assassination of the late prime minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984, which marked a new low in security climate in the country. As a result, the NSG was modelled along the lines of the legendary British Army commando force,  the Special Air Service and the German GSG-9. Initially the NSG’s role was confined to a counter terror role, but two years later around 1986-87, it was expanded to include VVIP security duties and aviation security through the provision of sky marshals. Clearly the NSG’s involvement in VVIP security has proved controversial time and again considering it was perceived as dilution of the purpose for which the organisation was originally created.

Today the NSG assumes importance owing to the rise of terrorism within the country and globally. Neither conventional military nor police forces are capable of tackling terror threats. In view of this, the NSG, which has both army personnel who comprise its strike element and para-military personnel who perform support roles specifically trained for such missions can prove effective in terms of quick responses and surgical strike capabilities. The evolving security environment coupled with the pace of economic growth and the increased air traffic in the region, results in increased vulnerability of the country to terrorism. Given these realities the NSG has a greater role to play as a critical organ of national security in times to come.

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