USE OF INCORRECT TERMINOLOGY
I had written an article titled "Restructuring the Central Police Forces and the State Armed Police to Combat Internal Insurgencies". It was published in the South Asia Defence and Strategic Year Book 2011, which was published early this year. I am enclosing a copy as an attachment. As you will see, it is a long article of 4781 words, which all may not be interested to read. However, I would recommend that the portion highlighted in yellow be read by all. Following the publishing of the article, I was informed that the then Home Secretary (retired recently) issued immediate instructions to the police forces not to call themselves para military forces. As suggested by me, the Home Ministry issued a policy letter dated 18/22 March 2011 wherein all the armed police forces were instructed to adopt a uniform nomenclature as suggested by me. I am enclosing a scanned copy of the same as the second attachment. I do not know whether the police forces and others will follow the instructions but it is important that they do. The media continues to use the term para military forces incorrectly and so do even defence officers. Army Headquarters needs to contact all editors of newspapers and magazines, as well as others, including their subordinate formations and request them to instruct their scribes/ others to use the correct nomenclature. I thought the readers of your blog would be interested to know; they could then correct people who continue to use the wrong nomenclature. Warm regards.·
Former Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS)
Former Director Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)
Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
“Restructuring the Central Police Forces and the State Armed Police to Combat Internal Insurgencies” By Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
India has a plethora of police forces, with different organizations, both at the central as well as the state levels. Additional units of such forces are also being raised. Till a few years back, these forces were used more on the basis of availability than their primary tasks. As an example, the Border Security Force (BSF), which is meant for deployment on the international borders, was for long used for conducting counter-insurgency operations. Although the tasks were rationalised once again in 2001 when a major exercise was carried out by a Group of Ministers (GoM), the tendency to use these police forces in an ad hoc manner continues.
India has a large number of internal security challenges, where groups of militants have taken up arms to force the nation to meet their demands. These include the insurgencies in all the states of the north east, the major Pakistan-supported insurgency in J & K and the growing Maoist insurgency in six states of the country. The situation is compounded by internal insurgencies of different types in practically all countries of South Asia, as there are linkages between various groups of insurgents in India and its neighbouring countries.
Till now, the Indian leadership has relied on the Indian military, especially the army in meeting such internal challenges because the armed police forces were not capable of doing so. This has undoubtedly resulted in adversely affecting the army’s ability to meet its primary task, viz. the external challenges of the nation. However, as the armed police forces of the country are still not capable of meeting these threats, the army continues to be employed on internal security tasks. This state of affairs must change, but it can happen only when the armed police forces of the nation are made capable of confronting such internal challenges. There are many reasons for this state of affairs, ranging from inadequacies in structural organisations, obsolescent equipment, a flawed leadership pattern, weaknesses of training, improper use of such police forces, a culture more attuned to routine policing, lack of infrastructure and administrative backing and the tendency of deploying these forces in penny packets. Unless these flaws are rectified, these armed police organisations are unlikely to become capable of meeting major internal security challenges.
On account of the manner in which armed police forces have operated in the past, the public has lost faith in their ability to operate impartially. They are also prone to use excessive force, which is a sure way of alienating the public. The reason is that they become panicky very quickly in the face of agitating crowds and resort to firing prematurely, when less lethal methods could restore order. It is a truism that the public has, over the last six decades faith only in the army, without realizing that this actually works for weakening the army to be ready for its main and primary task, viz deterring and if needed defeating the external enemies of the nation.
Despite many efforts in the past, the armed police forces have been incapable of improving to a degree where they can take on major internal security tasks like counter insurgency and counter terrorism. I also discern reluctance on their part to make themselves capable, as can be seen by their non-acceptance of many measures suggested by the army, especially in the matter of manning and leadership of such police forces. Although the country needs to make these armed police forces capable of carrying out their internal security tasks in an efficient manner, opinion is increasingly of the view that perhaps the country needs a separate force for dealing with high grade insurgency, so that the army can be relieved of such duties and this new force can assume the mantle of conducting high grade internal security operations, including counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations. The above aspects are proposed to be discussed in the following parts in this paper:·
Part I – Clarifications on nomenclatures.
Part II - Current organisational structures and weaknesses of the armed police forces.
Part III – Major internal security challenges in India.
Part IV – Suggested actions to strengthen the armed police forces.
Part V - A separate internal security force to meet the internal challenges of the future.
PART I – CLARIFICATIONS ON NOMENCLATURES
Over the last two decades or so, many armed police forces have coined their own terminology, which is not only confusing but wrongly indicates capabilities that do not exist. We thus have armed police forces calling themselves or being referred to as Central Police Organisations (CPO’s); Central Para Military Forces (CPMF’s); Para Military Forces (PMF’s); Central Police Forces (CPF’s) and even central para police forces (CPPF’s). The controlling ministry, viz the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has made no effort to curb this incorrect use of terminology. In certain cases it has even encouraged it tacitly. There are two main reasons for this. The first is one-upmanship, self-aggrandisement and ego, and the second is the culture of not being precise amongst the bureaucracy and the police, as being vague promotes non-accountability. The media is also to blame for blindly following whatever a particular armed police force calls itself, thus perpetuating these grossly incorrect nomenclatures. The Indian Army, which understands the implications of using incorrect terminology, has pointed it out on a number of occasions to the MHA, as well as to the armed police forces, but has not succeeded in remedying the situation. Unless this penchant of the different armed police forces calling themselves with glorified names is checked, the current confusion is likely to become a nightmare for those who deal with the employment and deployment of different categories of armed police forces.
These armed police forces are by no stretch of imagination para military forces. Para military forces are those forces that are organized and equipped on military lines; have a military ethos and élan; and have as their leaders military officers.
None of the armed police forces, both of the central government or the states fulfill the above criteria. The correct terminology for them therefore is Central Armed Police Forces for those police forces that are controlled by the central government and State Armed Police Forces, which are maintained by the states.
In India, there are only three forces that can be rightly called para military forces. These are the Assam Rifles (AR), the Special Frontier Force (SFF) and the Coast Guard. All three are organised along military lines and are led by military officers on secondment from the army and the navy. Even the National Security Guard (NSG) is not a para military force, as half its units are entirely from the police and the head of the force is a police officer.
This may be the correct place to also clarify that the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), which is doing commendable work in J&K, is not a para military force, but is an integral part of the Indian army. On raising, it was called a para military force as manpower for its units could not be added to the army, which had a manpower ceiling. The matter was resolved by raising the force under a separate segment of the army known as List II. It needs to be emphasised that unless correct nomenclatures are used by everyone, including the media, the public does not get the correct perception about the force under discussion and their expectations from the force become unrealistic. Similarly, other countries get foxed about the capabilities of the force under discussion/ under report, because the capabilities of a police force and a para military force are different.
PART II – CURRENT ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURES AND WEAKNESSES OF THE ARMED POLICE FORCES
Details of Armed Police Forces
In India, law and order is a state responsibility. States maintain police forces for routine law and order, crime prevention and investigations, traffic control and similar well known duties. In addition, states also maintain armed police units for dealing with higher levels of law and order situations. All states have different names for their armed police units. Thus, Punjab has Punjab Armed Police (PAP) units while Bihar calls its armed police as Bihar Military Police (BMP) and Uttar Pradesh calls its armed police units as Uttar Pradesh Police Armed Constabulary (UPPAC). Although the names are different, their organizations, weapons, equipment and tasks are nearly the same.
Although the central government is not responsible for law and order, it does maintain a variety of large armed police forces for allotment to the states whenever demands are made by the states. As the responsibility of border management is that of the central government, it maintains forces for border security also. All such forces are controlled by MHA. The armed police forces of the central government are as under:
For Border Management- Border Security Force (BSF) for manning the land borders of the country except in the mountains.
Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) for manning the border with Tibet/China in the Himalayas.
Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) for guarding the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan Borders.
For Other Tasks.
Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
Railway Protection Force (RPF).
National Security Guards (NSG).
Special Protection Group (SPG).
Brief details of each force mentioned above are appended in succeeding paragraphs.
BSF. This force is responsible for guarding India's land borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh during peacetime and preventing trans-border crimes. During a wartime situation, the bulk of BSF units are placed under the command of the army and are re-deployed in accordance with the army’s plan. The present strength of this force is approximately 2,20,000 personnel and it fields about 190 battalions. Its senior leadership is from the Indian Police Service (IPS). It also has a small air arm (helicopters and transport aircraft), as well as a few small boats for inshore patrolling. Along the border in the Rann of Kutch, it has a few floating border posts on flat bottomed boats.
ITBP. This force is responsible for guarding the Indo-Tibetan Border, covering approximately 2115 km. The force is trained in mountaineering. The strength of the force is approximately 60,500 personnel, comprising 55 Battalions. It is also officered by the IPS.
SSB. The force was revamped a few years back and is now deployed on the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders. It fields 78 battalions and has strength of approximately 85,800 personnel. Its senior leadership is again from the IPS.
CRPF. It is the largest armed police force of India and one of the largest in the world. Its main task is to assist the police forces of the states and union territories' in managing high grade law and order situations and to conduct counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations. With a strength of over 300,000 personnel and nearly 260 battalions, it is also officered by IPS officers. It has a 10 battalion Rapid Action Force (RAF), which is trained to respond rapidly to sectarian violence and other major riot situations. It is again officered by IPS officers. The CRPF is currently raising a 10,000 strong anti-naxal force consisting of a number of COBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) battalions.
CISF. This force was raised to guard industrial installations around the country owned by the Central government, as well as for securing seaports and airports. Recently CISF has also started providing services to non government organisations. The details of other police forces mentioned above, like the RPF, NSG and SPG are not being discussed as they are not relevant to this paper.
The GoM on internal security, in its recommendations made in mid-2001 had identified the CRPF as the force of choice for countering high level law and order situations, including insurgency and terrorism. Prior to this, other police forces were also being used to tackle low grade insurgency, in addition to varied other tasks, like election duties, VIP security, dealing with communal and other type of riots and so on. The BSF, which was being used to assist the army in conducting Counter Insurgency (CI) and Counter Terrorism (CT) tasks in J & K was gradually withdrawn and its tasks were assigned to the CRPF. Today, it is the CRPF that is tasked to conduct all CI and CT tasks within the country. Hence, the focus of the rest of this paper will be exclusively on the CRPF.
Although ten years have elapsed since the GoM decision, the CRPF has not been able to change itself to meet this new role. Unfortunately, the focus of the MHA, as well as the CRPF hierarchy has been on forming additional units and bidding for state of the art weapons. Both these aspects are of secondary importance. What this force needs to do is to revamp its leadership, train seriously, become physically fit and learn how to deal with insurgents. The country has enough expertise, as the Indian Army is now considered the best in the world in conducting CI and CT operations. However, our police forces, including the armed police continue to view all tasks from the prism of ‘police culture’.There are many weaknesses in the CRPF, as indeed in the other police forces, which need to be eradicated before this force becomes capable of handling CI and Ct tasks. The predominant ones are as under:
Senior leadership is from the IPS. They get seconded to the CRPF after doing stints in districts and divisions in various states. They thus have no expertise of commanding CPF’s, having commanded no sub-units of the force. The junior level leadership also lacks professional expertise as they are recruited directly as Assistant Commandants and Sub Inspectors. Therefore, there is neither expertise in force deployment nor in the tactical employment and deployment of sub-units and units.· Although the CRPF is organized in battalions, most of their deployment is by companies. This neither brings cohesion nor the application of maximum force where needed. Battalion level leadership, weapons and equipment can not thus be applied to get decisive results.
The training is heavily influenced by police training. Thus, police culture prevails and the orientation is more towards dealing with routine police actions, instead of learning tactics of dealing with insurgents.· Frustration has started creeping in the directly recruited officers, as almost all aspects from policy to decision making is in the hands of the IPS cadre officers. Thus, optimum advantage of directly recruited officers is not being taken.
The units and sub units deployed in Maoist affected areas are ill-trained and ill-equipped for CI and Ct operations. and have mentally given up.
There is a big gap in coordination between the CRPF and state police. The CRPF men refuse to use even specific intelligence inputs while going on operations.
On account of inadequate training and lack of understanding, standard operating procedures such as sneaking into landmine zones without clearing the areas of explosives are not being followed.
PART III – MAJOR INTERNAL SECURITY CHALLENGES OF INDIA
Internal and External Insurgencies
In our country, we have to contend with both internal and external insurgencies and terrorism. External terrorism is of two categories - that which is actively supported by an inimical state (proxy war) and that launched independently by non-state actors. India is facing both. With regards to proxy wars and other externally sponsored high grade insurgencies, the Indian Army is the only instrument with the government that can handle them with professional competence. However, this does result in lowering the war fighting capabilities of the army, as is happening now. This must not be accepted, as this reduces substantially the deterrent capability of the army that is essential to impose caution on our potential enemies.India has been tackling internal insurgencies for over five decades. The insurgencies in the north eastern states of India commenced in Nagaland and gradually encompassed all the states in that region. In the Eighties and Nineties, a large part of the Army was deployed in Punjab to tackle the Sikh insurgents, who at the behest of and with the full support of Pakistan had let loose a reign of terror in Punjab. We have had two successes, one in the north east i.e. in the state of Mizoram and the second in Punjab. Both were resolved with the cooperation of the people of these states. Another major challenge in the realm of internal security is the Naxalite insurgency, also called Maoist insurgency, which has been building up for the last two decades, but has now become so serious that the Prime Minister has stated that it is the biggest challenge for the country today. Some details are enumerated in succeeding paragraphs.
The Naxalite Threat
Although the region has an abundance of raw materials in its hills and forests, the government has not been able to exploit these resources because it cannot effectively control them. The Naxalites too have resisted any government attempt to develop the area’s economy. It is a catch-20 situation where the government can not provide security without developing sufficient infrastructure and the latter can not be developed without sufficient security. The Naxalites consist of different groups, which operate fairly independently, but their poverty is a common denominator. Growth is of great importance, but the Naxalites are resisting such efforts, especially of bringing in foreign investors, because of inadequate compensation packages from both the government and corporate entities. The Naxalites have often stated that they would drive multinational corporations (MNCs) out of India by violent means. So far it is only rhetoric, as they do receive protection money from those companies, which are exploiting raw materials.. While investments from MNC’s and domestic corporations could bring jobs and development to this poverty ridden area, these have to be made while meeting the aspirations of the tribes, without exploiting them. Maoist leaders want commercial projects to provide locals with jobs, but at the same time the Naxalites are enhancing their capability to pursue violent means.Both the central and state governments are still groping for an answer for meeting this threat, but as in the case of other such movements in the past, the governments are placing too much emphasis on the use of force and too little on social and economic measures. In any case, at present the government has not come out with any plans except for deploying CPF’s, mainly CRPF, but here too the numbers are too little. The situation is compounded by the involvement of six states, all of whom have their own agendas. Some military advisers have been sent to the states and the army is training local and central police forces, but there is no well-thought out comprehensive plan. The Naxalites are not relying on violence alone, but are also making headway in social and political domains. Naxalites have formed sympathetic student groups and human-rights groups to help their cause and have even influenced people like Arundhiti Roy and others for advocating their cause.
PART IV – SUGGESTED ACTIONS TO STRENGTHEN THE ARMED POLICE FORCES
The major drawbacks of both the state armed police and the CRPF are similar except that the CRPF is a somewhat better force. While the weaknesses of these armed police forces have already been enumerated, the major weaknesses are again highlighted. These include the typical police culture of delayed and lethargic responses; lack of adequate training, especially in minor tactics, for executing their assigned tasks; lack of competent leadership; lack of some items of technical equipment and not the least their thinking that the army is always there to take over, as it has done in the past! This attitude needs to be disabused, as it is fraught with a very large number of negatives. The Naxalite insurgency has not suddenly appeared; it has been a festering concern for over a decade and yet no efforts seem to have been made to make these CPF units fit to tackle internal insurgency. The central government must take early and active measures to enhance the capabilities of the CRPF, while the state governments must do the same for their respective armed police forces.For decades now, the army has repeatedly suggested that both the CPF’s and the army will benefit by lateral induction of trained army personnel to the CPF units and their headquarters. This has also featured as a strong recommendation by the Sixth Pay Commission. All such recommendations have, however been summarily rejected by MHA, mainly on account of preserving their turf. Short Service Commissioned Officers, who can not be retained in the army after their mandatory service of five years, extendable to ten in selected cases, are ideal material to be inducted into the CRPF and other CPF’s. They are excellent officers, highly competent and well versed in conducting CI and CT operations. Such lateral shifts will give the CPF’s ready and well trained young officers, who with their army ethos, excellent leadership qualities and professional outlook would change the CPF units from complacent to competent and would make them capable of fighting not just the Naxalites but even other insurgents in future. Similarly, army soldiers and Non Commissioned Officers (NCO’s) can also be laterally inducted, the former after 7 to 8 years army service and the latter a few years later. They can then become part of CPF sub-units, strengthen them and teach the direct entry personnel norms, tactics and ethos of the army. Although the MHA has not formally stated their objections, it is the IPS lobby that feels that its present pre-eminent position will be dented. The second reason is that the CPF’S do not want to give the officers and soldiers their seniority of serving in the army, which they must get. The result is that the CPF’s continue to remain less than competent. There is an urgent need to do away with such parochial interests and the current compartmentalised existence and take much broader views. Otherwise, we will continue to wallow in the usual copious reports of committees, demands for raising more units, import of sophisticated weapons that are really not needed, and the continuing blame game, but nothing will be done to remove the systemic deficiencies and weaknesses! There is also a political aspect that needs to change. The centre cites the constitution and says security is a state subject, thus throwing the ball directly at the state. The states deftly parry with the logic of lack of resources! In some affected states, the Naxalites are even looked at as assets for elections and their violence gets subtly condoned! In addition, when the militancy is active in six states, how can each state fight it on its own? Unless there is a joint and concerted attempt simultaneously in all affected states, nothing is likely to be achieved. The time has come for setting aside the political baggage and getting together for the common cause. Let political expediency be kept aside while the full weight of the nation is used to confront the Naxalites. The need of the hour is to quickly set up two sets of structures, one for addressing the genuine concerns of the Naxalites and the other for the conduct of joint operations by the state armed police and the CRPF. The former is the concern of each state government and to varying extent it is already being done, but the latter needs a well-thought out centralised structure under an overall Force Headquarters, headed by a DG Police level officer. This Headquarters, while maintaining liaison and coordination with each state government must have autonomy to plan and conduct all CT operations in the entire Maoist-affected areas. It should have integrated and dedicated staff for operations, intelligence, logistics, legal, human rights, media interaction and the hearts and minds campaign. In short, they need to replicate the structures that the army has so successfully used in all insurgency areas. The staff of this force headquarters must report only to the Force Commander and not to their parent organisations, as is the current dispensation. All counter-militant operations are of long duration, but if the structures are correct and adequate attention is paid to removing systemic deficiencies, it would be possible to address both the amelioration of the concerns of the Naxalites and the violence unleashed by them. The units of the state armed police as well as those of the CRPF need to inculcate the army’s professional ethos; the operational culture of young army officers leading from the front; initiative and army’s work culture of junior leaders, for their head constables and sub inspectors; high standards of individual and small unit training, to include marksmanship, map reading skills and minor tactics; and self-reliant and professionally capable sub-unit commanders. For professional improvement in these aspects, selected junior leaders should be sent to the army’s Infantry School and having been trained as instructors, they should be employed in training centres of the state armed police and the CRPF, as well as in their units for training the others.The current inventory of weapons of these police units is generally adequate. However, there is a need to selectively upgrade those needed for close-quarter battle. With regard to equipment, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications equipment suitable for jungle terrain needs to be procured urgently and personnel should be trained to operate these both by day and night. For success, CRPF units must upgrade the quality of their counter-insurgency tactics, techniques and procedures and be armed with modern weapons for close-quarter battle and surveillance, reconnaissance and communications equipment suitable for jungle terrain. Leadership at the level of commanding officer (CO) should be drawn through lateral induction of volunteers from the Army, as was done when the BSF was initially raised. Young IPS officers must spend the first three years of their service with CRPF battalions on active duty in Maoist-infested areas. This will instil confidence in them and give them valuable operational experience in internal security duties.CRPF units must operate as cohesive battalions under the direct command of the CO and not as independent companies in penny packets, with the CO responsible only for administration. No CO, whose companies are deployed for anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh and who himself is sitting in his battalion HQ in Allahabad, can be effective in exercising operational control, ensuring high standards of training and boosting the morale of the men under his command. Nor can he be held responsible for operational and administrative lapses under such circumstances full sub-units are sent for training together and not individual personnel. The CRPF officers must accompany their troops for training, and all of them should be physically fit. Recent experience has shown that many of the CRPF personnel report sick on arrival, the officers rarely accompany them and the men are disinclined to put themselves through the rigorous training regimen.