The National Security Guard, India's most potent commando force, has finetuned its operational readiness and official procedures following the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai, says RS Chauhan
India's elite commando force, the National Security Guard, has identified over 300 high value targets and high value assets across the country that can come under a terrorist attack.
In an exercise that has lasted over 18 months in the post-26/11 period, NSG teams have done detailed reconnaissance and review of security arrangements at these places.
Some of the high value targets are well-known: the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre, several atomic power plants, the Reliance refinery in Jamnagar and ports in Mumbai, Kochi and Chennai for example.
Others, however, are not so obvious. The less conspicuous ones include big, glitzy malls, railway stations, important institutions and iconic buildings.
After exhaustive onsite inspection, NSG teams have evolved preventive as well as post-attack counter-measures for each of these identified sites. Local authorities including police and fire brigade are on board in these plans.
Following the three-day operation during the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, the NSG troopers had difficulty in finding their way into the five-star hotels. Drawing lessons from that operation, the NSG has made sure that 'walk-through' models of all the 300-odd high-value targets and assets are ready with the respective authorities.
Meanwhile, apart from the main base at Manesar near New Delhi, four NSG hubs have been established at Marol in Mumbai, Nedunkundram in Chennai, Trimulghery in Hyderabad and Badu (20 acres) in Kolkata that are fully operational now. All the hubs have 250 combat personnel in operational readiness all the time. For instance, following the July 13 Mumbai serial blasts, the NSG personnel from the Mumbai hub were at the three sites within half an hour of the blasts.
In Delhi, the main combat task force had assumed the 'tarmac readiness' posture. In other words, 150 fully-equipped and armed NSG troopers were on board an IL-76 transport plane ready to fly out to Mumbai. Of course, within an hour after the blasts, it was clear that these NSG troopers were not needed in Mumbai this time.
One more important change after 26/11 has come in the form of quick availability of an aircraft. NSG sources say if the IL-76 which belongs to the RAW's Aviation Research Centre was not available that day, the DG NSG and other designated officers have been empowered to requisition any civil aircraft from registered operators in the interest of public safety.
Overall, the NSG has finetuned its operational readiness and official procedures. However, there are several critical shortcomings in equipping and upgrading India's most potent commando force.
That, you will read about in Part II.
To be concluded