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Overview:

The National Security Guards (NSG) is India’s special response force for anti-hijacking, counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and other “special” operations. It was established in 1984 under the National Security Guard Act to deal primarily with specialized situations, such as the ones mentioned above, that were beyond the level and scope of local police forces and the Indian armed forces. The Union Ministry for Home Affairs exercises administrative and operational control over NSG.

 

NSG’s role in the resolution of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks elevated its presence and highlighted its strengths and weaknesses. The three-day terrorist spree conclusively demonstrated India’s vulnerability to “anti-national elements” and simultaneously the need for a specifically trained force like NSG that can perform hostage-rescue and counter-terrorist operations while responding to evolving threats. As a result of this newfound place in India’s security response calculus, NSG is currently undergoing much needed expansion and modernization.

more
History:

The idea for an entity like the NSG can be traced back to Indira Gandhi and her decision to use the conventional aspects of the Indian Army to dispatch Sikh terrorists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. Codenamed “Operation Blue Star,” the military action against the terrorists was a response to the devolving internal security situation in Punjab. During June 3-6, 1984, soldiers of the Indian Army equipped with tanks and artillery fire fought a violent battle against the militants holed up in the temple. While the military objective of the mission was achieved, the raid turned out to be political suicide. The Temple suffered heavy damage and the number of reported casualties ranged from 800 (official Indian government account) to 8,000 (eyewitness accounts). In response to the attack, Sikh soldiers mutinied, government officials resigned, and communal tensions worsened. Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in retaliation, and India became engulfed in communal riots targeting the Sikhs.

 

A closer analysis of the debacle revealed that the strategy adopted by the government was flawed. The use of artillery and tanks in a congested holy compound packed with civilians was responsible for the massive number of civilian deaths as well as extensive damage the compound itself. Furthermore, Indian Army soldiers were inadequately prepared to deal with such a situation. This was by no means a conventional war. While the Special Frontier Force’s (SFF) Special Group (SG) participated in the mission, they relied on help from elements of the Indian Army as well as other paramilitary groups.

 

In the light of this fiasco, the need for a specialized group to conduct “surgical” (with much greater precision) operations was realized. Rather than using the Army to storm buildings and rescue hostages, it was decided to form a contingency force that would be responsible for such operations. The ascent of terrorism in the 1970’s, primarily leftist and Islamist groups, and the subsequent creation of specialized units in other countries (such as the GSG 9 in Germany) further bolstered this view. The NSG was established in October 1984 as a ‘Federal Contingency Force’ under the Cabinet Secretariat. It was recognized as an ‘Armed Force of the Union’ and given legal backing by the National Security Guards Act, 1986, which also subsequently brought it under the control of the Home Ministry.

 

The NSG was originally supposed to be modeled after the GSG-9 unit; however, differences in the Indian security environment as well as governmental administration shifted that focus. It was initially suggested that instead of a central organization, the nature of threats and situations that NSG responds to makes it ideal to create localized, regional units. The original plan called for “three different regional units for local action, rather than have a central force that could be transported to the trouble spots as and when required.”  This never materialized and the NSG, to this day, remains a central organization (although in the aftermath of 26/11, it did establish four new bases in different parts of India). The NSG was also designed to be a 100% deputation force. No personnel truly ever belong to the NSG. The force gets over 50% of its soldiers from the Indian Armed Forces whereas the rest come from the central paramilitary forces such as the Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), etc.

more
What it Does:

Headed by an Indian Police Service (IPS) cadre Director General, NSG is divided into the Special Action Group (SAG) and the Special Rangers Group. SAG, which is responsible for the direct execution of the operations, draws its recruits from the Indian Army. On the other hand, SRG, which serves in a support capacity, draws its recruits from the central paramilitary forces.

 

NSG’s primary mandate is to “engage and neutralize terrorist threats in specific situations and to undertake counter hijacking and hostage rescue missions.” Initial duties of the NSG were limited in scope. In 1986-87, the scope was expanded to include “VVIP security, anti-sabotage checks at venues of VVIP public meetings and anti-hijack duties in international and domestic flights.” It is for this reason that NSG is considered India’s premier counter-terrorist force. The force undertakes unilateral missions as well as assists the central paramilitary forces. The expansion of their duties delegated to the NSG the role of Sky Marshals on select domestic and international flights. The Guards are further responsible for the mitigation of threats to vital and sensitive installations, including India’s nuclear facilities. While the force has expanded its regional reach after the 26/11 attacks, the main area of operation remains New Delhi.

 

In addition to the offensive operational role, the Guards also play a defensive security role. This is nowhere more evident than the use of SRG personnel for VVIP protection. NSG commando protection is reserved individuals deemed most at risk. This includes people who are provided the Z+ security cover, the highest protection cover of the Indian government. VVIP protection is carried out by SRG personnel and constitutes one of the biggest drains on the NSG. Additionally, NSG personnel are also deployed to provide security on special occasions such as the Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations and during visits by heads of states.

 

Other capabilities and duties of the NSG include bomb disposal, creation and management of bomb data centers, and training of local, state, and federal police personnel in NSG core capabilities and specialties. A good example of this is NSG’s role in training the Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu & Kashmir police. The inability of the conventional Indian Army to execute specialized missions and the limited strength of the NSG resulted in the establishment of the SOG. By most accounts, the force has performed well and it considered to have relived NSG and other units in certain areas.

 

NSG had undertaken a number of high profile missions. Listed below are some of the more well-known and successful operations:

 

  • Operation Black Thunder I and II: Operation Black Thunder was a successor of Operation Blue Star. Despite the widespread carnage during Blue Star, the Golden Temple continued to be used as a militant base. In 1986, the Government of India decided to storm the temple again. This time, however, it used the newly created NSG. Both missions were considered successful and resulted in no civilian or military casualties. Upon the successful completion of the mission, the NSG handed over control to the Punjab Police.

 

  • Operation Mousetrap: A relatively unknown, six-month deployment of the NSG in 1990 Punjab where it was tasked with eliminating top Sikh militants. The operations were carried out at night and it revealed to the Indian government the true versatility of the NSG.

 

  • In 1992, with communal tensions rising between Hindus and Muslims, companies of NSG were deployed to Ayodhya to deal with any disturbance. This was an out of scope assignment for NSG, but it also symbolized just how important peace was to the Indian government.

 

  • Operation Ashwamedh: Perhaps one of the finer moments in NSG history, SAG commandos stormed a hijacked Indian Airlines flight and killed the hijacker. All hostages were rescued and none were armed.

 

  • In the latter half of 1998, NSG became the tip of the spear as the Indian government decided to proactively strike militants in Jammu & Kashmir. These missions continued for years, and NSG is still deployed in the area to this day.

 

  • In 2002, SAG personnel were involved in the hunt for notorious sandalwood smuggler Veerappan. The SAG ultimately pulled out before Veerappan was killed in December 2002.

 

  • Operation Vajra Shakti: In October 2002, two heavily armed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) associates attacked the Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. NSG successfully eliminated the militants and rescued over 50 hostages. It, however, lost two men.

 

  • Operation Black Tornado and Operation Cyclone: In November 2008, 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) attackers unleashed deadly attacks in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment hub. The entire Indian response was marked with typical operational and administrative inefficiencies. NSG personnel took the lead in the response and after three days of intense fighting were able to successfully subdue the terrorists. The actions of the NSG thrust it into the national limelight and resulted in initiatives to improve the quality of the force.

 

Attached Bodies or Autonomous Bodies

 

National Bomb Data Center: The National Bomb Data Center (NBDC) was established in 1988 with the goal of maintaining a list of all bombing incidents in the country. This role was later revised in 2002 when it was designated as the entity in charge of “monitoring, recording, and analyzing all bombing incidents in the country.”  NBDC also deploys ‘Post Blast Study’ teams to states requesting them for conducting forensic investigations of certain blasts. As envisioned, the NBDC will

 

  • Carry out bomb incident investigations and provide advice on preventive measures
  • Collect, collate, analyze, and evaluate all terrorist bombing activities reported in the country.
  • Compile and disseminate periodic statistical data and analytical information on terrorist bombing activities.
  • Research and develop concepts for dealing with terrorist bomb threat situations.
more
Where Does the Money Go:

While an accurate budget breakdown of the NSG is unavailable, given the recent flurry of activity at the organization, certain reasonable estimations can be made regarding its spending. NSG currently is in a process of expansion and modernization. It lacks the requisite strength as well as much needed modern equipment. The central government recently approved a Rs. 1,200 crore ($219.2 million) modernization initiative for the Twelfth Plan Period for the force. A good portion of the increased NSG budgets for the next five years will undoubtedly go toward this end, which will include the procurement of crucial technology, better weapons, as well protective gear and transportation. The establishment of four regional hubs will increase the overall overhead for NSG. Furthermore, the lack in strength means it will try to recruit more individuals and perhaps upgrade its training facilities.

more
Controversies:

26/11 Response

While the NSG undoubtedly played an important role in the resolution of the crisis, the force has not been spared criticism. During the 2011 Mumbai attacks, NSG took ten hours to respond to the crisis. The reason: a lack of readily available or dedicated transport facilities. As one commentator put it: “The effectiveness of a small, but highly equipped group of terrorists underscored deficiencies in India's preventive and retaliatory capabilities.” Furthermore, “The less than rapid arrival of the NSG ten hours after the attacks began also underscored limitations in logistics.”

 

This was not the first time the NSG was late. During its Operation Ashwamedh deployment, the NSG was stuck in traffic for two hours during its drive to Palam Airport to board an airline to get to Gujarat. During the Mumbai attacks, it was decided to not send NSG operators already at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the event there was another threat waiting to happen. Two hundred NSG commandos were requested, and getting them prepared turned out to be a logistical nightmare. The lack of solid intelligence meant that the NSG had to be prepared for any eventuality. This required taking along more than required equipment, which in turn necessitated the use of the IL-76, Indian Air Force’s largest cargo plane. It was almost 3 am by the time the NSG was able to board a plane to Mumbai. When in Mumbai, the limited availability of helicopters meant that some commandos had to be transported to the attack sites by bus. All of this contributed greatly to the effectiveness of India’s response and inevitably resulted in the deaths and injuries of more people.

 

What Lessons Have Learned From 26/11 (Hindustan Times Blog)

3 Years After 26/11, Nsg Still Lacks Infrastructure (by Rajesh Kumar And Mahak Jain, India Today)

26/11: It Took 5 Hrs To Decide On Sending Nsg, Find Aircraft (by Pranab Dhal Samanta, The Indian Express)

After Mumbai - India's Response (by Avnish Patel, Royal United Services Institute)

Upgrading the National Security Guards (by Bhashyam Kasturi, The Hindu)

more
Suggested Reforms:

A Faster Modernization and Expansion of the NSG

The post-operation analysis of the Indian response to the Mumbai attacks highlighted a need not only for an internal and effective transportation infrastructure for the NSG but also the deployment of the force in cities deemed most vulnerable. It was decided to set up NSG regional hubs in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Mumbai. Yet despite Mumbai being the target site as well as an extremely attractive target, over three years passed before the NSG established its hub. The hub still lacks a firing range. There is a general attitude of apathy that permeates the Indian bureaucracy and departments overseeing Indian security are generally no different.

 

Avnish Patel, the commentator quoted above, observed that during the execution of Operation Black Tornado, the “NSG were further hampered by an absence of relevant equipment such as night vision goggles, poor intelligence and planning such as the lack of an operational command centre.” An NSG major who participated in the Mumbai operations laments “we would have saved both our men in Mumbai operations if we had state of the art equipment.” To remedy this, it was decided to upgrade and modernize the force. Yet, three and a half years later, much remains to be done. In February 2012, the central government announced the allocation of Rs. 1,200 crore ($215.2 million) for the Twelfth Plan Period for modernizing the NSG. In 2011, then NSG chief Rajan Medhekar stated that the “NSG is working on a five-year plan to provide best technology and training to our commandos.” Explicating further, Medhekar stated, “The Black Cat will carry global positioning system (GPS), body wearable computers, automatic cameras, self-care medication and so on with him.” If the NSG’s gun acquisition process is any indication, achieving this lofty goal might take more than the projected five years. In February 2012, it was reported that that Home Ministry had procured obsolete versions of a submachine gun that the NSG had requested two years prior. An article introduction to the issue sums it up nicely: “Bureaucratic red tape, complex clearance procedures and lack of political will has not only delayed the arrival of a gun, demanded by the elite commando units National Security Guards (NSG), but have also made the government choose an obsolete version of the weapon.”

 

Despite plans drawn and promises made, the NSG still lacks equipment that is part of standard issue for special response units of all major countries. The transport infrastructure has seen little improvement, troops do not have access to higher level bulletproof vests and helmets, and night vision camera, hands-free communication systems, and state of the art weaponry is non-existent. NSG had to borrow grenade launchers during 26/11; three years later, they have still haven’t acquired one yet.

 

Politicians, security officials, journalists as well as scholars, all concerned with the nature of the Indian bureaucracy, the brutal political infighting, and the rampant corruption in the procurement arena, have called for a faster modernization process that would enable NSG to mitigate any threat. They warn that India’s ability to respond to another 26/11 type attack remains unimproved.

 

Chidambaram’s Big Plans for NSG Rolled Back (by Saikat Dutta and Manan Kumar, Daily News & Analysis)

Rs 1,200 cr Allotted for NSG Modernization (Sakal Times)

NSG Gets Fourth and Final Regional Hub in Mumbai (The Hindu)

Modernizing the NSG (India Today)

Red Tape Delays Delivery of New Gun Requested by National Security Guard in Wake of 26/11 Attacks (by Hakeem Irfan, Mail Online India)

Super Black Cat Commandos by 2015, Says NSG Chief (Daily News & Analysis)

After Mumbai - India's Response (by Avnish Patel, Royal United Services Institute)

Upgrading the National Security Guards (by Bhashyam Kasturi, The Hindu)

3 Years after 26/11, NSG Still Lacks Infrastructure (by Rajesh Kumar and Mahak Jain, India Today)

more
Debate:

VIP Security

Perhaps one of the most contentious issues concerning NSG is the use of SRG personnel for VVIP security duties. More than half of SRG’s personnel are deployed for VIP security. Despite the shortage of qualified personnel in handling increasingly complex threats, NSG has been significantly burdened by its protection duties. One example is 26/11 which was completely handled by SAG personnel without support from SRG. NSG commandos are deputed to protected individuals with Z-plus level and Z-level security. The Z-plus includes a security cover of 36 personnel whereas Z-level includes 22 personnel. The debate over the providing extensive security covers to individuals is not about the provision of the cover itself; rather, it is about the use of the NSG personnel to fulfill these duties.

 

PRO

For many politicians and other key figures, NSG protection (from real or perceived threats) is a status symbol, a sign of their importance. An article citing anonymous sources mentioned that “India is probably the only country in the world where a dedicated anti-terror unit raised under an act of parliament has been conveniently used for personal security and for the aura that comes with it.” On this side, there is a reluctance to let go of the NSG. Attempts to reduce cover levels or take away NSG personnel often cause political infighting, with opposing side accusing each other of wanting to hurt its members.

 

What is X, Y and Z Security Category? (Hindustan Times)

Time to Rationalize (The Sunday Indian)

The Elite Group (UTS Voice)

Security Matters (UTS Voice)

VIP's Refuse to Give Up Security Cover (Times Now Online)

 

CON

In the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks, then NSG Director General J.K.Dutt proposed the creation of a new VIP security agency under the Home Ministry. As one reporter mentioned this demand “comes in the wake of the public outcry over the government spending billions in VIP security even as the public was left defenseless from terror attacks.” The reporter further noted, “There has also been a lot of criticism of misuse of NSG commandos for bodyguard duty of politicians and other protected persons.” The Home Ministry has also recently called into question the use of NSG for VIP security.

 

No More VIP Security, Says NSG (Deccan Herald)

Home Ministry Wants Debate on VIP Security (by Vinay Kumar, The Hindu)

New Agency Should Handle VIP Security, NSG Chief (India Today)

NewsXVideo: Row over VIP Security Cover (NewsXLive)

 

more
Former Directors:

Rajan Medhekar

Rajan Medhekar was the former Director General of NSG. He served in that position from January 2010 to March 2012. A 1975 batch Kerala cadre IPS officer, Medhekar had previously served as the Special Director General of BSF; Assistant Director General of Police (Operations), Kerala; Assistant Director General of Police (Intelligence), Kerala; and Assistant Director General of Police (Fire Force), Kerala.

more

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CommandoPC 4 years ago
The posts Mr Madhekar occupied before BSF were Additional DGP (Operations), Additional DGP (Intelligence) and Additional DGP (Crimes) and not Assistant DGP. Also, he was Commandant General and DGP Fire Force, Civil Defence, Home Guards and Fire Force and not Assistant DGP (Fire Force).

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Founded: 1984
Annual Budget: Rs. 501.20 crore ($91.73 million) (2012-2013)
Employees: 10,000
Official Website: http://www.nsg.gov.in/
National Security Guards
  • Latest News
Bookmark and Share
Overview:

The National Security Guards (NSG) is India’s special response force for anti-hijacking, counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and other “special” operations. It was established in 1984 under the National Security Guard Act to deal primarily with specialized situations, such as the ones mentioned above, that were beyond the level and scope of local police forces and the Indian armed forces. The Union Ministry for Home Affairs exercises administrative and operational control over NSG.

 

NSG’s role in the resolution of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks elevated its presence and highlighted its strengths and weaknesses. The three-day terrorist spree conclusively demonstrated India’s vulnerability to “anti-national elements” and simultaneously the need for a specifically trained force like NSG that can perform hostage-rescue and counter-terrorist operations while responding to evolving threats. As a result of this newfound place in India’s security response calculus, NSG is currently undergoing much needed expansion and modernization.

more
History:

The idea for an entity like the NSG can be traced back to Indira Gandhi and her decision to use the conventional aspects of the Indian Army to dispatch Sikh terrorists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. Codenamed “Operation Blue Star,” the military action against the terrorists was a response to the devolving internal security situation in Punjab. During June 3-6, 1984, soldiers of the Indian Army equipped with tanks and artillery fire fought a violent battle against the militants holed up in the temple. While the military objective of the mission was achieved, the raid turned out to be political suicide. The Temple suffered heavy damage and the number of reported casualties ranged from 800 (official Indian government account) to 8,000 (eyewitness accounts). In response to the attack, Sikh soldiers mutinied, government officials resigned, and communal tensions worsened. Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in retaliation, and India became engulfed in communal riots targeting the Sikhs.

 

A closer analysis of the debacle revealed that the strategy adopted by the government was flawed. The use of artillery and tanks in a congested holy compound packed with civilians was responsible for the massive number of civilian deaths as well as extensive damage the compound itself. Furthermore, Indian Army soldiers were inadequately prepared to deal with such a situation. This was by no means a conventional war. While the Special Frontier Force’s (SFF) Special Group (SG) participated in the mission, they relied on help from elements of the Indian Army as well as other paramilitary groups.

 

In the light of this fiasco, the need for a specialized group to conduct “surgical” (with much greater precision) operations was realized. Rather than using the Army to storm buildings and rescue hostages, it was decided to form a contingency force that would be responsible for such operations. The ascent of terrorism in the 1970’s, primarily leftist and Islamist groups, and the subsequent creation of specialized units in other countries (such as the GSG 9 in Germany) further bolstered this view. The NSG was established in October 1984 as a ‘Federal Contingency Force’ under the Cabinet Secretariat. It was recognized as an ‘Armed Force of the Union’ and given legal backing by the National Security Guards Act, 1986, which also subsequently brought it under the control of the Home Ministry.

 

The NSG was originally supposed to be modeled after the GSG-9 unit; however, differences in the Indian security environment as well as governmental administration shifted that focus. It was initially suggested that instead of a central organization, the nature of threats and situations that NSG responds to makes it ideal to create localized, regional units. The original plan called for “three different regional units for local action, rather than have a central force that could be transported to the trouble spots as and when required.”  This never materialized and the NSG, to this day, remains a central organization (although in the aftermath of 26/11, it did establish four new bases in different parts of India). The NSG was also designed to be a 100% deputation force. No personnel truly ever belong to the NSG. The force gets over 50% of its soldiers from the Indian Armed Forces whereas the rest come from the central paramilitary forces such as the Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), etc.

more
What it Does:

Headed by an Indian Police Service (IPS) cadre Director General, NSG is divided into the Special Action Group (SAG) and the Special Rangers Group. SAG, which is responsible for the direct execution of the operations, draws its recruits from the Indian Army. On the other hand, SRG, which serves in a support capacity, draws its recruits from the central paramilitary forces.

 

NSG’s primary mandate is to “engage and neutralize terrorist threats in specific situations and to undertake counter hijacking and hostage rescue missions.” Initial duties of the NSG were limited in scope. In 1986-87, the scope was expanded to include “VVIP security, anti-sabotage checks at venues of VVIP public meetings and anti-hijack duties in international and domestic flights.” It is for this reason that NSG is considered India’s premier counter-terrorist force. The force undertakes unilateral missions as well as assists the central paramilitary forces. The expansion of their duties delegated to the NSG the role of Sky Marshals on select domestic and international flights. The Guards are further responsible for the mitigation of threats to vital and sensitive installations, including India’s nuclear facilities. While the force has expanded its regional reach after the 26/11 attacks, the main area of operation remains New Delhi.

 

In addition to the offensive operational role, the Guards also play a defensive security role. This is nowhere more evident than the use of SRG personnel for VVIP protection. NSG commando protection is reserved individuals deemed most at risk. This includes people who are provided the Z+ security cover, the highest protection cover of the Indian government. VVIP protection is carried out by SRG personnel and constitutes one of the biggest drains on the NSG. Additionally, NSG personnel are also deployed to provide security on special occasions such as the Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations and during visits by heads of states.

 

Other capabilities and duties of the NSG include bomb disposal, creation and management of bomb data centers, and training of local, state, and federal police personnel in NSG core capabilities and specialties. A good example of this is NSG’s role in training the Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu & Kashmir police. The inability of the conventional Indian Army to execute specialized missions and the limited strength of the NSG resulted in the establishment of the SOG. By most accounts, the force has performed well and it considered to have relived NSG and other units in certain areas.

 

NSG had undertaken a number of high profile missions. Listed below are some of the more well-known and successful operations:

 

  • Operation Black Thunder I and II: Operation Black Thunder was a successor of Operation Blue Star. Despite the widespread carnage during Blue Star, the Golden Temple continued to be used as a militant base. In 1986, the Government of India decided to storm the temple again. This time, however, it used the newly created NSG. Both missions were considered successful and resulted in no civilian or military casualties. Upon the successful completion of the mission, the NSG handed over control to the Punjab Police.

 

  • Operation Mousetrap: A relatively unknown, six-month deployment of the NSG in 1990 Punjab where it was tasked with eliminating top Sikh militants. The operations were carried out at night and it revealed to the Indian government the true versatility of the NSG.

 

  • In 1992, with communal tensions rising between Hindus and Muslims, companies of NSG were deployed to Ayodhya to deal with any disturbance. This was an out of scope assignment for NSG, but it also symbolized just how important peace was to the Indian government.

 

  • Operation Ashwamedh: Perhaps one of the finer moments in NSG history, SAG commandos stormed a hijacked Indian Airlines flight and killed the hijacker. All hostages were rescued and none were armed.

 

  • In the latter half of 1998, NSG became the tip of the spear as the Indian government decided to proactively strike militants in Jammu & Kashmir. These missions continued for years, and NSG is still deployed in the area to this day.

 

  • In 2002, SAG personnel were involved in the hunt for notorious sandalwood smuggler Veerappan. The SAG ultimately pulled out before Veerappan was killed in December 2002.

 

  • Operation Vajra Shakti: In October 2002, two heavily armed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) associates attacked the Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. NSG successfully eliminated the militants and rescued over 50 hostages. It, however, lost two men.

 

  • Operation Black Tornado and Operation Cyclone: In November 2008, 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) attackers unleashed deadly attacks in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment hub. The entire Indian response was marked with typical operational and administrative inefficiencies. NSG personnel took the lead in the response and after three days of intense fighting were able to successfully subdue the terrorists. The actions of the NSG thrust it into the national limelight and resulted in initiatives to improve the quality of the force.

 

Attached Bodies or Autonomous Bodies

 

National Bomb Data Center: The National Bomb Data Center (NBDC) was established in 1988 with the goal of maintaining a list of all bombing incidents in the country. This role was later revised in 2002 when it was designated as the entity in charge of “monitoring, recording, and analyzing all bombing incidents in the country.”  NBDC also deploys ‘Post Blast Study’ teams to states requesting them for conducting forensic investigations of certain blasts. As envisioned, the NBDC will

 

  • Carry out bomb incident investigations and provide advice on preventive measures
  • Collect, collate, analyze, and evaluate all terrorist bombing activities reported in the country.
  • Compile and disseminate periodic statistical data and analytical information on terrorist bombing activities.
  • Research and develop concepts for dealing with terrorist bomb threat situations.
more
Where Does the Money Go:

While an accurate budget breakdown of the NSG is unavailable, given the recent flurry of activity at the organization, certain reasonable estimations can be made regarding its spending. NSG currently is in a process of expansion and modernization. It lacks the requisite strength as well as much needed modern equipment. The central government recently approved a Rs. 1,200 crore ($219.2 million) modernization initiative for the Twelfth Plan Period for the force. A good portion of the increased NSG budgets for the next five years will undoubtedly go toward this end, which will include the procurement of crucial technology, better weapons, as well protective gear and transportation. The establishment of four regional hubs will increase the overall overhead for NSG. Furthermore, the lack in strength means it will try to recruit more individuals and perhaps upgrade its training facilities.

more
Controversies:

26/11 Response

While the NSG undoubtedly played an important role in the resolution of the crisis, the force has not been spared criticism. During the 2011 Mumbai attacks, NSG took ten hours to respond to the crisis. The reason: a lack of readily available or dedicated transport facilities. As one commentator put it: “The effectiveness of a small, but highly equipped group of terrorists underscored deficiencies in India's preventive and retaliatory capabilities.” Furthermore, “The less than rapid arrival of the NSG ten hours after the attacks began also underscored limitations in logistics.”

 

This was not the first time the NSG was late. During its Operation Ashwamedh deployment, the NSG was stuck in traffic for two hours during its drive to Palam Airport to board an airline to get to Gujarat. During the Mumbai attacks, it was decided to not send NSG operators already at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the event there was another threat waiting to happen. Two hundred NSG commandos were requested, and getting them prepared turned out to be a logistical nightmare. The lack of solid intelligence meant that the NSG had to be prepared for any eventuality. This required taking along more than required equipment, which in turn necessitated the use of the IL-76, Indian Air Force’s largest cargo plane. It was almost 3 am by the time the NSG was able to board a plane to Mumbai. When in Mumbai, the limited availability of helicopters meant that some commandos had to be transported to the attack sites by bus. All of this contributed greatly to the effectiveness of India’s response and inevitably resulted in the deaths and injuries of more people.

 

What Lessons Have Learned From 26/11 (Hindustan Times Blog)

3 Years After 26/11, Nsg Still Lacks Infrastructure (by Rajesh Kumar And Mahak Jain, India Today)

26/11: It Took 5 Hrs To Decide On Sending Nsg, Find Aircraft (by Pranab Dhal Samanta, The Indian Express)

After Mumbai - India's Response (by Avnish Patel, Royal United Services Institute)

Upgrading the National Security Guards (by Bhashyam Kasturi, The Hindu)

more
Suggested Reforms:

A Faster Modernization and Expansion of the NSG

The post-operation analysis of the Indian response to the Mumbai attacks highlighted a need not only for an internal and effective transportation infrastructure for the NSG but also the deployment of the force in cities deemed most vulnerable. It was decided to set up NSG regional hubs in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Mumbai. Yet despite Mumbai being the target site as well as an extremely attractive target, over three years passed before the NSG established its hub. The hub still lacks a firing range. There is a general attitude of apathy that permeates the Indian bureaucracy and departments overseeing Indian security are generally no different.

 

Avnish Patel, the commentator quoted above, observed that during the execution of Operation Black Tornado, the “NSG were further hampered by an absence of relevant equipment such as night vision goggles, poor intelligence and planning such as the lack of an operational command centre.” An NSG major who participated in the Mumbai operations laments “we would have saved both our men in Mumbai operations if we had state of the art equipment.” To remedy this, it was decided to upgrade and modernize the force. Yet, three and a half years later, much remains to be done. In February 2012, the central government announced the allocation of Rs. 1,200 crore ($215.2 million) for the Twelfth Plan Period for modernizing the NSG. In 2011, then NSG chief Rajan Medhekar stated that the “NSG is working on a five-year plan to provide best technology and training to our commandos.” Explicating further, Medhekar stated, “The Black Cat will carry global positioning system (GPS), body wearable computers, automatic cameras, self-care medication and so on with him.” If the NSG’s gun acquisition process is any indication, achieving this lofty goal might take more than the projected five years. In February 2012, it was reported that that Home Ministry had procured obsolete versions of a submachine gun that the NSG had requested two years prior. An article introduction to the issue sums it up nicely: “Bureaucratic red tape, complex clearance procedures and lack of political will has not only delayed the arrival of a gun, demanded by the elite commando units National Security Guards (NSG), but have also made the government choose an obsolete version of the weapon.”

 

Despite plans drawn and promises made, the NSG still lacks equipment that is part of standard issue for special response units of all major countries. The transport infrastructure has seen little improvement, troops do not have access to higher level bulletproof vests and helmets, and night vision camera, hands-free communication systems, and state of the art weaponry is non-existent. NSG had to borrow grenade launchers during 26/11; three years later, they have still haven’t acquired one yet.

 

Politicians, security officials, journalists as well as scholars, all concerned with the nature of the Indian bureaucracy, the brutal political infighting, and the rampant corruption in the procurement arena, have called for a faster modernization process that would enable NSG to mitigate any threat. They warn that India’s ability to respond to another 26/11 type attack remains unimproved.

 

Chidambaram’s Big Plans for NSG Rolled Back (by Saikat Dutta and Manan Kumar, Daily News & Analysis)

Rs 1,200 cr Allotted for NSG Modernization (Sakal Times)

NSG Gets Fourth and Final Regional Hub in Mumbai (The Hindu)

Modernizing the NSG (India Today)

Red Tape Delays Delivery of New Gun Requested by National Security Guard in Wake of 26/11 Attacks (by Hakeem Irfan, Mail Online India)

Super Black Cat Commandos by 2015, Says NSG Chief (Daily News & Analysis)

After Mumbai - India's Response (by Avnish Patel, Royal United Services Institute)

Upgrading the National Security Guards (by Bhashyam Kasturi, The Hindu)

3 Years after 26/11, NSG Still Lacks Infrastructure (by Rajesh Kumar and Mahak Jain, India Today)

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Debate:

VIP Security

Perhaps one of the most contentious issues concerning NSG is the use of SRG personnel for VVIP security duties. More than half of SRG’s personnel are deployed for VIP security. Despite the shortage of qualified personnel in handling increasingly complex threats, NSG has been significantly burdened by its protection duties. One example is 26/11 which was completely handled by SAG personnel without support from SRG. NSG commandos are deputed to protected individuals with Z-plus level and Z-level security. The Z-plus includes a security cover of 36 personnel whereas Z-level includes 22 personnel. The debate over the providing extensive security covers to individuals is not about the provision of the cover itself; rather, it is about the use of the NSG personnel to fulfill these duties.

 

PRO

For many politicians and other key figures, NSG protection (from real or perceived threats) is a status symbol, a sign of their importance. An article citing anonymous sources mentioned that “India is probably the only country in the world where a dedicated anti-terror unit raised under an act of parliament has been conveniently used for personal security and for the aura that comes with it.” On this side, there is a reluctance to let go of the NSG. Attempts to reduce cover levels or take away NSG personnel often cause political infighting, with opposing side accusing each other of wanting to hurt its members.

 

What is X, Y and Z Security Category? (Hindustan Times)

Time to Rationalize (The Sunday Indian)

The Elite Group (UTS Voice)

Security Matters (UTS Voice)

VIP's Refuse to Give Up Security Cover (Times Now Online)

 

CON

In the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks, then NSG Director General J.K.Dutt proposed the creation of a new VIP security agency under the Home Ministry. As one reporter mentioned this demand “comes in the wake of the public outcry over the government spending billions in VIP security even as the public was left defenseless from terror attacks.” The reporter further noted, “There has also been a lot of criticism of misuse of NSG commandos for bodyguard duty of politicians and other protected persons.” The Home Ministry has also recently called into question the use of NSG for VIP security.

 

No More VIP Security, Says NSG (Deccan Herald)

Home Ministry Wants Debate on VIP Security (by Vinay Kumar, The Hindu)

New Agency Should Handle VIP Security, NSG Chief (India Today)

NewsXVideo: Row over VIP Security Cover (NewsXLive)

 

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Former Directors:

Rajan Medhekar

Rajan Medhekar was the former Director General of NSG. He served in that position from January 2010 to March 2012. A 1975 batch Kerala cadre IPS officer, Medhekar had previously served as the Special Director General of BSF; Assistant Director General of Police (Operations), Kerala; Assistant Director General of Police (Intelligence), Kerala; and Assistant Director General of Police (Fire Force), Kerala.

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CommandoPC 4 years ago
The posts Mr Madhekar occupied before BSF were Additional DGP (Operations), Additional DGP (Intelligence) and Additional DGP (Crimes) and not Assistant DGP. Also, he was Commandant General and DGP Fire Force, Civil Defence, Home Guards and Fire Force and not Assistant DGP (Fire Force).

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Founded: 1984
Annual Budget: Rs. 501.20 crore ($91.73 million) (2012-2013)
Employees: 10,000
Official Website: http://www.nsg.gov.in/
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