National Security Guard
|National Security Guard|
|Motto||सर्वत्र सर्वोत्तम सुरक्षा (Sarvatra Sarvottam Surakhsha)(Sanskrit)|
|Omnipresent Omnipotent Defense|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Constituting instrument||National Security Guard Act, 1986|
|Agency executive||Jayanta Narayan Choudhory, IPS Assam- Meghalaya-1978, Director General|
|Parent agency||Indian Police Service, Indian Army|
The National Security Guard (NSG) is a special force in India that has primarily been utilised for counter-terrorism activities and was created by the Cabinet Secretariat under the National Security Guard Act of the Indian Parliament in 1986. It works completely within the Central Armed Police Forces structure. The NSG is an elite force providing a second line of defence to the nation. They have played a pivotal role in safeguarding the unity of India and have commendably foiled attempts of anti-national elements to tear apart the social fabric of the country. The NSG have maintained an edge over terrorist outfits in possession of latest technology and are considered among the best special operations units in the world.
The National Security Guard (NSG) was set up in 1984 as a Federal Contingency Deployment Force to tackle all facets of terrorism in the country and has acquired considerable experience from the intense insurgency operations it has faced – from the present conflict in the state of Kashmir to the cradle of its birth, the state of Punjab. Adopting a variety of roles from counter-terrorism to hostage rescue to VIP protection, the NSG proudly wears the mantle of being one of the finest counter-terrorist units in all of Asia. The NSG's roles include conducting anti-sabotage checks, rescuing hostages, neutralising terrorist threats to vital installations, engaging terrorists, responding to hijacking and piracy and protecting VIPs.
The NSG's specific goals include:
- Neutralization of terrorist threats
- Handling hijacking situations in air and on land.
- Bomb disposal (search, detection and neutralisation of IEDs).
- PBI (Post Blast Investigation)
- Engaging and neutralizing terrorists in specific situations.
- Hostage Rescue
The NSG operates under the oversight of the Ministry of Home Affairs and is headed by the Director General of the Indian Police Service (IPS). The NSG members are also known as Black Cats because of the black drill cotton coveralls and balaclavas or helmets they wear.
The NSG has a total personnel strength of about 14,500. The NSG is modelled on Germany's GSG 9 (Grenzschutzgruppe 9 or "Border Guard Group 9"). It is a task-oriented force and has two complementary elements in the form of the Special Action Group (SAG) and the Special Ranger Groups (SRG). The NSG currently has two SAGs – 51 Special Action Group and 52 Special Action Group; and three SRGs – 11, 12 and 13. Each unit has 900 personnel.
The Special Action Group is the strike force in anti-terrorist and anti-hijack operations, supported by the SRG. All the personnel in the SAGs and some support units, training and headquarters are on deputation from Indian Armed Forces, the rest being drawn from the central police organisations. The SAG is the offensive wing drawn from units of the Indian Army. The SRG consists of members from Central Paramilitary Forces (CPFs) and Central Police Organisations (CPOs) such as the Border Security Force (BSF), the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and State Police forces .
The smallest combat unit in the NSG’s counter-terrorist operation is a "hit" which comprises five members – two pairs, or partners and a technical support member. Four hits make a team which is under the command of a Captain. The number of hits used for an intervention job depends on its complexity and the magnitude of the operation. In hostage rescue situations, a team of 50 to 90 NSG personnel and an IL-76MD strategic transport aircraft to transport them, are stationed on alert at New Delhi’s Palam Air Force Station and are ready to deploy within 30 minutes of being informed.
The NSG was established under the National Security Guard Act of 1986. The NSG was formed after an analysis of 1984 Operation Blue Star. During this operation, in which the Indian Army removed Sikh militants who had seized control of the Golden Temple, there was significant civilian collateral casualties. The temple also suffered damages during that operation. The operation highlighted the need for a force specialising in counter-terrorist operations with greater efficiency.
The NSG commandos were first used to combat the insurgency movement in the Indian state of Punjab in 1986. They are now primarily utilised for counter-terrorist activities and have seen combat operations in Jammu and Kashmir, though sparingly.
NSG deployments are usually not made public, with most of its operations remaining classified.
Some of the NSG's known operations include:
- 29–30 April 1986: About 300 NSG commandos and 700 Border Security Force troops stormed the Golden Temple in Operation Black Thunder I. The Temple was cleared and handed over to Punjab Police on 1 May 1986. 300 Sikh militants were captured, and there were no deaths or injuries for either side.
- January 1988: The NSG conducted Op Black Hawk, a heliborne operation in the Mand area of Punjab. In this operation two terrorists were killed and one 7.62mm was recovered. It was a massive operation, says Ved Marwah, but did not get many spectacular results like in Black Thunder.
- 12 May 1988: 1,000 NSG commandos (all ranks) surrounded the Golden Temple for yet another assault, in Operation Black Thunder II. Sniper teams armed with Heckler & Koch PSG-1 rifles with night scope took up positions, including atop a 300-foot water tower. While commandos from the 51 SAG divided into assault squadrons, the SRG were used to seal off the area around the temple and for tactical support. In the three-day operation between 15–18 May 1988, the NSG cleared the temple. 30 terrorists were killed, and 217 surrendered. In mid-1990s, a NSG battalion was again deployed in Punjab to confront the Sikh rioters. There they began training the Punjab Police in counter-terrorism.
- 5 September – 15 January 1988: Guarding of high-risk terrorist code-named 'Jack'.
- 4 August 1989: Operation Mouse Trap in the Tarn Taran district of Punjab, in conjunction with Punjab Police and other security forces. NSG was able to demonstrate that it was possible to achieve area dominance at night, if the strategy and tactics were right. Ved Marwah calls this Operation Night Dominance.
- 10 November 1990: NSG task force flown to Kolkata to rescue hostages of a Thai airbus by Burmese students.
- 25–26 January 1991: The NSG was involved in Operation Ani Ben, on CI tasks in Baroda, (Gujarat) where Punjab terrorists were holed up inside a house. Two terrorists were killed and two AK-47s were recovered.
- 1 July-20 September 1991: NSG employed along with SIT in search and strike missions after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
- 25 November – 16 December 1992: 150 commandos were deployed at Ayodhya during the Ram Janambhoomi and Babri Masjid crisis.
- 27 March 1993: 52 SAG mobilised and moved to Adampur for rescue of hostages of Indian Airlines Flight IC 486.
- 24–25 April 1993: NSG Commandos storm a hijacked Indian Airlines Boeing 737 with 141 passengers on board at Amritsar airport during Operation Ashwamedh. Two hijackers, including their leader, Mohammed Yousuf Shah, are killed and one is disarmed before. No hostages are harmed.
- October 1998: As part of the implementation of the Union Home Ministry's decision to conduct pro-active strikes against militants, commando teams supported by IAF Mi-25/35 helicopter gun-ships began striking at terrorist groups deep inside the mountains and forests of Kashmir. After helicopter reconnaissance were conducted to pinpoint the militants, the commandos – comprising NSG and Rashtriya Rifles personnel – were para-dropped, along with supplies, into the area to hunt the militants. They had to rely on these supplies and their ability to live off the land until replenishment every fortnight or so. These missions are possibly ongoing.
- 15 July 1999: NSG commandos end a 30-hour standoff by killing 2 terrorists and rescuing all 12 hostages unharmed in J&K. The terrorists had attacked a BSF campus near Srinagar, killed 3 officers and the wife of another. The 12 hostages were kept locked in a room.
- 21 August 1999: After interrogating three captured terrorists, the Delhi Police Crime branch confirmed that two more terrorists were hiding in a one-storied house in Rudrapur, Uttar Pradesh. Since the terrorists were considered armed and dangerous (their colleagues were arrested with 100+ pounds of RDX), the Delhi Police sought assistance from the NSG. A 16-man team arrived at the house at 4:45 am They began their assault at 5:30 am, before first light. The first militant managed to fire at the commandos with a pistol he kept by his bedside, but was killed an instant later. The second terrorist was shot before he had a chance to fire and died 40 minutes later. No NSG personnel were injured.
- December 1999: Terrorists hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC814 from Nepal, and landed in Amritsar, Punjab. Within minutes of landing, the Crisis Management Group (CMG), which authorised the use of the NSG, was informed. But the CMG wasted precious hours and by the time the go-ahead was issued, it is too late. On the other hand, the NSG team on alert was elsewhere and no other team was raised during the delay. The hijacked plane took off before the NSG reached Amritsar Airport. The plane landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan where one hostage was killed. Finally, the Indian Government agrees to the terrorists' demands to release three jailed terrorists. The hostages are released and the terrorists escaped to Pakistan.
- February 2000: Following the Flight IC 814 fiasco, the Indian Government decided to implement an Air Marshal programme. At least two NSG operators will be present on flights over select routes. These operators will be armed with weapons firing lethal, but low-velocity, fragmentation rounds to minimise danger to the passengers and prevent penetration of the aircraft. Another decision taken was to deploy NSG teams permanently at eight sensitive airports around the country, especially those bordering Pakistan and the North East. This decision will cut short reaction times for the NSG and eliminate hassles involved in flying the teams to the hijack site. It is not known if this plan has been put into action.
- September 2002 – SAG commandos fly to the Karnataka state in India, in an effort to catch sandalwood smuggler and forest brigand Veerappan, in the wake of kidnapping of a former minister of the state cabinet, Nagappa. They pull out after suggesting that intelligence for the operation was inadequate. A small team is left behind to help, the hostage is eventually killed in December 2002.
- October 2002 – Two terrorists attack Akshardham temple complex in Gujarat. NSG flies in, delayed by traffic in Delhi. They carry out assaults in which one commando is killed and another one is seriously injured and was in a coma, died after 18 months. But by morning the two terrorists are killed and the operation successfully completed.
- December 2002 – Terrorists attack the Raghunath temple in Jammu. NSG ready to be flown out but called back at the last minute.
- 26 November 2008 Mumbai attacks — Operation Black Tornado and Operation Cyclone to flush out terrorists & rescue hostages after multiple attacks across Mumbai, India. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havaldar Gajender Singh Bisht of the Special Action Group lost their lives during the operations.Over 900 rooms were scanned, 9 Terrorists killed and over 600 hostages rescued during the Operation.
- 2013 Bangalore Bomb Blast - NSG was deployed in Bangalore after the bomb blast took place in the city.
- 2013 Patna Bomb Blast - A team of the NSG, which was sent to Patna for post-blasts analysis, said at least three more Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were defused.
Three of their 14 months of training in Manesar, Haryana, are devoted to the basics.The basic training period lasts 90 days. Physical fitness training has 26 elements, ranging from an cross-country obstacle course to jumping from heights and across divides and scaling different kinds of terrain. One endurance test involves target shooting at the end of an obstacle-ridden cross-country run. This is meant to gauge the candidate’s performance under conditions of stress and exhaustion. Those who successfully complete the tests are sent for nine months of advanced training. Only those who complete the entire course successfully are inducted into the NSG and given further specialised training, thus making them at par with the best forces around.
At the training, the commandos are trained to handle sophisticated communication equipment, combat gadgets and different kinds of arms/specialised weapons such as AK-47/74s, Browning hi-power 9mm pistol, 9mm Uzi sub-machine gun, 5.56mm M-16 A2, 9mm H&K MP5-A2/A3 and locally manufactured 7.62mm SLR and 5.56mm INSAS rifles. Sniper rifles such as the semi-automatic H&K 7.62mm PSG-1 and MSG-90, the SIG 7.62mm, SSG-2000 and the bolt-action Mauser SP66/86SR are also used to train members of the Special Action Group, which is specifically deployed for anti-terror/anti-hijacking operations.
The NSG Training Centre is a Centre of Excellence and the National Bomb Data Centre holds international conferences. Both are located at Manesar in Haryana. The NSG HQ Exchange is located at Mehramnagar, Palam.
The following have commanded the NSG in the past:
10th International Combat Team Competition 2007 was conducted by GSG9 at Bonn, Germany from 2 to 7 Sep 2007. A total of 50 teams of various elite forces, predominantly from Europe, participated in the competition. NSG team won the obstacles cum endurance competition, a first for any team from Asian countries.
9th International Body Guards Tournament 2007 was conducted at Yalta, Ukraine from 17 to 22 Sep 2007. A total of 27 teams from various countries participated. NSG team had following achievements:
- 1st position in Team Firing Competition.
- 1st position and competition Record in individual Firing Competition by Naik Raj Kumar.
Developments After 26/11
The NSG is working on a five-year plan to provide the best technology and training to the commandos. According to NSG Director General Rajan Medhekar, the commandos will be able to retaliate more effectively in the coming years. After modernisation, the commandos will be much better equipped with the latest weaponry. Every commando will be a unit in himself and will carry global positioning system (GPS), body wearable computers, automatic cameras, self-care medication and so on with him. The commander giving directions to commando on the task would be able to see him in action.
On a modernization spree post-26/11 attacks, the National Security Guards (NSG) has embarked on a project to create a super commando, what it calls the "future black cat", who will be armed with such state-of-the-art gadgets that will give live streaming of audio-visuals of a terror situation to a command and control centre in order to exchange information and take orders in real time. Sources say, this will cut down operation time, bring more precision, improve efficiency and reduce force casualties and aims to turn commandoes into "a walking system" than just armed men. The force has already conducted a trial run of the new system successfully during its training programmes and is hoping to make it operational within three years. These commandoes will be armed with gadgets such as multiple cameras, microphones, messaging services etc. which will send live feeds of the situation and help them receive fresh orders on strategy according to changed situation in real time. A senior NSG officer said, "Presently, we enter a situation based on inputs given by intelligence agencies or local police. The real scenario is at times found to be different from the input. Thus, the new situation requires a new command in real time, but that is not possible at the moment leading to delay and losses in operations." Mumbai attacks were a prime example of this disadvantage where the forces entering the Taj Mahal Hotel did not have any specific information on the exact number of terrorists holed up there, the layout of the hotel or where the terrorists may be holed up. NSG men were very much on their own once they entered the hotel. It also cost them the life of Major Unnikrishnan. Besides, several other gadgets being acquired include self-extinguishing fire suits, state-of-the-art bugs, camera-fitted eyewear, long-range bomb detection equipment and Taser guns. While self-extinguishing bomb suits, which self-dowse fire within three seconds, will protect commandoes from being burnt, Taser guns that temporarily paralyse victims will be used in situations where civilians and terrorists may be mixed. In case of the latter the gun will paralyse the victim until he can be identified lessening the chance of civilian casualties in a hostage situation. It can also be used in VIP security.
NSG is sharing training and technology with world's best agencies from France, Israel, Germany and other countries. In future, NSG has plans to perform this training with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States special operations forces. The NSG is now equipped with remote control improved explosive device (RCIED) bomb jammer. The jammer is effective in the range of up to 100 meters. By getting this, the force can more powerfully counter terrorism.
Learning from the experience of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the National Security Guards (NSG) is set to bring on board "tactical negotiators" who can be used by the agency to interact with terrorists in a hostage situation in the event of a terror attack in future. The Home Ministry has approved NSG's proposal to allow it to hire such professionals who can be psychological experts and help the security agencies in negotiating with terrorists when civilians are taken hostage, like what happened during the Mumbai 26/11 attacks.At present, usually a senior police official or a top Intelligence official is roped in for such negotiations who may not be the best person for the job given the lack of expertise. A source in the NSG said the force is studying the concept of professional negotiators in elite commando forces in the US and UK where talented professionals in the field of psychology and professors of universities act as resource persons or a permanent group used by them for negotiations in a hostage situation. The tactical negotiators desired by the NSG should have good communication and persuasive skills and must be capable of understanding realtime behavioural patterns, language and dialect of the terrorists in the event of a communication channel opening up during a hostage situation.
During the 26/11 attacks, Pakistani terrorists holed up in Nariman House had called up the Israeli embassy in Washington to negotiate for the release of several Israeli hostages inside the building. In fact, one of the terrorists told the Israeli officials to ask India to release the captured terrorist Ajmal Kasab in exchange for the hostages.The Israeli officials, who had to depend on an interpreter to talk to the terrorists, tried to negotiate the release but failed as the terrorists killed all the hostages. The 26/11 terrorists holed up at Oberoi Hotel had also called up a private TV channel saying they were Indians hailing from Hyderabad and demanded the release of all terrorists in Indian jails.During the IC 814 hostage situation in Kandahar in 1999, the then Intelligence Bureau chief Ajit Doval along with Nehchal Sandhu, who went on to become the IB chief, were the chief negotiators. The hostage episode on foreign soil in Afghanistan ended after India agreed to free three dreaded terrorists in exchange for 175 passengers on board. Doval later admitted pressure from government and hysteria back home by relatives of passengers prevented the negotiators from getting the hijackers to scale down their demand to release just one terrorist.
Hyderabad will turn into a training hub of the elite 'Black Cats' by mid-2014. With the ministry of home affairs (MHA) giving its nod and sanctioning Rs 533.68 crore a few months ago, the National Security Guard (NSG) officials are gearing up to set up the Southern Regional Center (SRC) at Ibrahimpatnam, Hyderabad for training commandos. With the state government also handing over 600 acres at Ibrahimpatnam, the SRC is likely to be ready by next year. Tender notices have already been issued for civil works, which would be overseen by the Central Public Works Department. With this, Hyderabad would have an NSG hub at Trimulgherry as well as the SRC for training 'Black Cats'. As of now, nearly 300 commandos, ready for anti-terror operations round-the-clock, are stationed at the NSG hub at Trimulgherry. Similar hubs are in place in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. The proposal to set up a state-of-the-art NSG training centre at Ibrahimpatnam on the lines of NSG Manesar training centre has been pending for over three years. But the MHA officials, in their annual report released recently, announced the release of funds for developing infrastructure. "Post the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike, four regional hubs of NSG were operationalised in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata to reduce reaction time. A regional centre at Hyderabad is also being raised, for which 600 acres of land has been acquired. MHA has conveyed sanction of Rs 533.68 crore towards the construction of this Southern Regional Centre, NSG at Ibrahimpatnam," the MHA report said. With this, the state would have two trained anti-terror striking forces. Besides the NSG, the Andhra Pradesh police's OCTOPUS, which also has a training facility at Ibrahimpatnam, has a strength of over 250 personnel. NSG and OCTOPUS personnel, who undergo a gruelling training, including handling sophisticated weapons, commandos are sent back to their parent department once they attain the age of 35, ensuring that the force remains young and fighting fit.
Delayed response time
There have been several occasions where the lack of proper transportation has hampered the response time of the unit. This was evident during the 1999 hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814 when the unit was stuck in rush hour traffic due to a lack of helicopters. During the Mumbai attacks, the unit was delayed due to lack of aircraft in Delhi and then lack of ground transportation in Mumbai.
In response to criticism of the time taken for the NSG commandos to arrive in Mumbai from their base in Manesar, Haryana during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Government of India has decided to deploy NSG contingents in major cities across India like Mumbai, Kolkata (462 personnel), Hyderabad and Chennai.
VIP protection duties
The task of providing VVIP security for high-risk VVIPs in India is done by the Special Rangers Group (SRG) of the NSG. A large number of SRG personnel are assigned as bodyguards for various political leaders leaving a significantly lesser number of rangers who may be able to assist when the need arises. However, after a recent media uproar, many of the NSG commandos were reassigned from their bodyguard positions back to active duty. As of July 2012, there are 15 VIPs/VVIPs under the NSG security cover. The NSG has decided to pull out the 11th SRG, with its 900 commandos, from VIP protection duties to perform specialist counter-terror and counter-hijack operations. There are plans to convert the 12th SRG to purely counter-terror duties as well.
- Pistol Auto 9mm 1A Semi-automatic pistol
- Glock 17 and Glock 19 9mm Semi-automatic Pistol
- SIG P226 9mm Semi-automatic Pistol
- Heckler & Koch M512 12-gauge Shotgun
- 1A SMG 9mm Sub-machine gun
- Heckler & Koch MP5 – A3, A5, SD3, SD6, K and K-PDW 9mm Submachine Gun
- AKM 7.62x39mm Assault Rifle
- Beretta AR70/90 5.56mm NATO Assault Rifle
- SIG SG 551 5.56mm NATO Carbine
- Mauser SP66 7.62mm NATO Bolt-Action Sniper Rifle
- Steyr SSG 69 7.62mm NATO Bolt-Action Sniper Rifle
- SIG-Sauer SSG 2000 7.62mm NATO Bolt-Action Sniper Rifle
- Heckler & Koch MSG-90 7.62mm NATO Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle
- Heckler & Koch PSG1 7.62mm NATO Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle
- AGS-17 30mm automatic grenade launcher
Upgrades after 26/11
- CornerShot Guns
- Laser Designator
- Advance Audio Communication Set
- GPS & GPRS Technological Systems
- Wall Surveillance Radars
- Portable X-RAY MACHINE
- Night Vision Devices
- Protective Goggles
- Special Tactical Gears
- Thermal Imaging Cameras
- Mini Remotely Operated Vehicles
- Non skid shoes
- Ghillie suits
- Helmet with in built hands free communication
- Level 3 bullet-proof vest
- Knee pad and elbow pads
- SIG SG 553
- Chartered helicopters and ability to use civilian aircraft for emergencies.
- Anti-Materiel Rifles like the OFB produced Vidhwansak and possibly the Russian made OSV-96.
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