Government's decision to create four hubs and station crack commandos of the NSG in various parts of the country for counter-terror operations was an "archaic idea" which has diluted the elite force's capability, former National Security advisor MK Narayanan said on Friday.
Delivering the first NSG raising day lecture, the West Bengal governor said it was a "major mistake" to have (created) the four hubs in Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai.
The government had created the four regional centres of the 'black cats' in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008 for a quick response of the National Security Guard (NSG) which had received a lot of flak for reaching late to flush out the terrorists during the strikes.
"I am concerned about the current emphasis on increasing the size and numbers of the NSG. I also have reservations about the establishment of four regional hubs. The NSG is an elite special force intended to meet a specific situation and not intended to confront the normal law and order situation."
"Its strength does not lie in its numbers, its uniqueness lies in the fact that it consists of the bravest of brave personnel, of great virtue and ability, specially trained for undertaking the most difficult tasks... increasing numbers (of NSG men), to my mind, is bound to dilute both quality and capability of the force," he told a packed audience of top NSG commanders and those from various national security organisations.
The former IPS officer, who retired as the head of the Intelligence Bureau in 1992, also said that NSG should adopt a model where it is leaner, more mobile and operationally agile force as he suggested to "those in charge" that the force should also have role in counter-proliferation and nuclear security.
The former NSA also said that there exists a "doctrinal confusion" on what exactly is the role of the NSG and when should it be requisitioned for operations.
"When to use NSG is a big question mark," he said.
Narayanan said that the force, tasked to undertake special counter-terror and counter-hijack operations, should enhance its knowledge base, familiarity and should have a "deeper understanding" about the tactics, techniques and ideologies of the Naxalites and terror groups operating in India.
"NSG is different from PARA commandos or commando forces. You do not know what are you up against (when NSG is sent for operations)... You are used as a last resort, so you need a much better understanding (about your task)," he said while referring to the 26/11 operation where NSG was sent to flush out terrorists holed up inside various locations.
"You need a far better understanding of what is happening... who are behind... who are doing this (act of perpetrating terror)," Narayanan, who has donned many hats in formulating country's security policies before being appointed governor of West Bengal in 2010, said.
He put up a question to NSG chief Subhash Joshi and other force commanders that they should find out "what (referring to challenges to be met by the force) was valid in 1984 (when NSG was raised), is it valid now in 21st century or not?"
He also said that while NSG is the only "special force" on the civil side, he would not agree to give that tag to any of the special commando units raised by various state police forces.
Narayanan also said that the NSG, with several successful operations under its belt, should be used "sparingly" and for very specific purposes.
Narayanan also said that NSG should have a "captive" air power for itself in order to undertake independent operations.
Under the present system, the NSG hires or summons aircraft from either the IAF, the RAW or it can also take any commercial airliner to pack its commandos and send them for a mission.
During his lecture, he also pointed that NSG should modernise its weapons and keep updating its training modules.
He said among the few security concerns is the "speed with which fundamentalists, extremists and radical ideas and ideologies are spreading and these obviously cannot be fought with conventional weapons".