Cops yet to learn guerilla tactics to combat Maoists

 Even after a decade of training with the Army, officials and personnel of the central police forces are yet to learn the skills to enter and dominate the forested areas of Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand where the Maoists currently enjoy an upper hand, opine senior Army officers.

In the last 12 years, Indian Army trained close to 79,000 people, including 40 battalions of Central Reserve Police Force (roughly 35,000-40,000 soldiers). The rest were from various state police organisations, including at least 360 police personnel from Chhattisgarh who were trained in bomb disposal and field-engineering among other things.

Close to 100 officers, mostly from Border Security Force and CRPF, receive training at infantry units and training schools of the Army. But not many of them are Indian Police Service officers, who have to lead the men in anti-Maoist operations ultimately.

“This remains one of the critical gap areas. If the officers receive training on tactical aspects of operating in forest areas where Maoists are present, they could have taken on the Red Brigade with more efficiency. The CRPF does not seem to be learning that lesson,” said a senior army officer.

Indian Army learned it the hard way during their campaign in Sri Lankan jungles in the 1980s. The lessons resulted in better operational strategies such as conducting a road-opening operation from a position of strength.

After Saturday’s massacre in Bastar, CRPF immediately sent 600 men, including some of its commandos, to sanitise and take control of the area. More CRPF men may be sent.

But because of the flaws in the training system, CRPF’s response remained ineffective when the troops come under fire from the Maoists carrying automatic weapons, he said.
The government, however, has no plans to bring in the Army to tackle the Maoists. Asked if the Army would be deployed in Chhattisgarh, defence minister A K Antony said: “There is no proposal like that. We extend our support without direct involvement. The real answer is to strengthen the local police and para-military forces.”

The Army seems to have put on the back-burner a proposal to build a large training facility for the Central Command at Abujhmarh in Bastar, for which it was getting 100 acres of land from the state government.

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