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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Is Force 1 good enough?

Presley Thomas, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, October 10, 2009
First Published: 01:17 IST(10/10/2009) | Last Updated: 01:18 IST(10/10/2009)

It was supposed to be the first urban anti-terrorism commando force, meant exclusively for a state.

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But the training and shift schedules of Force 1 — apparently modeled on the lines of the National Security Guards (NSG) — reveal that a Force commando is no better than your Mumbai police constable.

The first squad of 212 commandos will be in Mumbai on October 15.

Just like any regular policeman, Force 1 personnel will be on duty in an eight-hour shift. S Jaganathan, additional inspector general of police (Force 1) said, “We have divided the force into three batches, and one batch will be on standby for eight hours. After the eight-hour period a new batch will take over.”

A commando unit never works on a shift system, say Indian Army officials.

A para-commando of the Indian Army said, “Any counter-insurgency or counter-terrorist unit is modeled to be on alert 24x7. One cannot afford just a third of its force on alert mode, considering terrorists never declare and attack.”

The ideal example of a classic commando unit is the National Security Guards. “The guards once stationed are always on alert mode. They never operate in a shift system. Shift system shows a lackadaisical approach towards a highly responsible job,” the officer added.

The other reason why the Force 1 commandos don’t match up to the level of counter terrorism squads across the world is that these forces are essentially an officer led force, explained Indian Army officials. The force commander of Force-1, Jaganathan, has not undertaken the training his fellow men have undergone. “I come here to the training facility two to three times a week,” said Jaganathan.

An Indian army officer, who served a three-year term with the NSG, said: “Force commander of a counter-terrorism unit always works on the principle that he is the first to step forward in case of a contingency and also the last to step out.”

When Hindustan Times visited the training facility at the State Reserve Police Force Group 1 headquarters in Pune, it found that the state’s commando force had little ammunition to practise firing.

A Force 1 personnel, who is undergoing training, said: “We fire 25 to 30 rounds a day with weapons like closed compact assault rifles Heckler & Koch MP5, AK-47 and close range pistols like Glock-19.”

While force chief Jaganathan said, “We have made some drills which are tougher than what the NSG undergoes,” officers of the Indian Army clarify that an NSG personnel fires nothing less than 300 rounds even in routine practice sessions. 


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