Deploying NSG a wise decision: Army chief

Deploying NSG a wise decision: Army chief

A week after the Pathankot terror attack, Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag said that Western Army Commander was the overall in-charge of the operation and deploying the National Security Guards (NSG) was a wise decision.

The Army chief’s response comes in the wake of severe criticism of the government from several quarters, including a section of the ex-servicemen community, who accused the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval for creating a confusion in the command structure and deploying the NSG commandos instead of Army infantry troops, stationed in Pathankot.

“The Pathankot operation was carried out under the command of the Western Army Commander Lt Gen K J Singh, who was in total control of the operations. On the ground, Army brigade commander was in charge,” Gen Dalbir Singh said here on Wednesday, countering reports of command confusion due to the presence of top officials from several agencies.

Eight columns of Army troops (560-600 men) and one column of Army Special Forces (Para unit) were deployed in the Pathankot operations besides the NSG and Garud commandos.  Army’s Casspir mine resistant vehicles and BMP armoured vehicles were also put into the operation.

Justifying the NSG deployment, the Army chief said the crack commando team was sent to prevent any hostage situation in case of cropping up of such a situation.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the crisis management group chaired by Doval where Army chief was also present. The chiefs of the Northern Army Command and Western Army Command were in the loop.

“The commanding officers on the ground was given full liberty to finalise their plans. There was total synergy between the Army and the NSG,” he said. Army troops were deployed at the outer circle and nobody breached the cordon after Army deployment, Gen Dalbir Singhsaid, hinting at the possibility of the terrorists entering the base before the alert was sounded.

Gen Dalbir Singh, however, refused to elaborate on how the terrorists may have entered the Air Force base as a probe by the National Investigation Agency is on.

On the death of Lt Col E K Niranjan, the Army chief said the officer was an expert in explosives as he handled 3,500-4,000 kg explosives in the last one year.

“It is difficult to say where things went wrong as he followed the standard operating procedure. There may be some booby trap that he didn’t expect. But he was the most qualified officer,” he said.

The operation continued for four days as the instruction from the top was to ensure minimum casualty from the Indian side.

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