India’s elite National Security Guard is planning to conduct joint exercises with commandos of the armed forces to better secure defence installations in the wake of the brazen terror attack on the Pathankot air base in January.
The NSG was so far kept out of defence installations, including the Pathankot base in Punjab, which wasn’t mapped by the force before being pressed into service on January 2 to neutralize six suspected Pakistani terrorists.
“We didn’t do a recce of any defence installation. Before the Pathankot attack, we did only one joint exercise with the marine commandos or MARCOS in Mumbai. After the Pathankot attack, we did another exercise with the Air Force commandos known as Garuds in Bangalore,” said RC Tayal, who heads the NSG.
Tayal said he plans to have more such joint exercises in future.
The NSG wanted the first responders – state police or the armed forces commandos -- deployed for securing defence installations to have capabilities to deal with any threat, he added.
After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the security establishment embarked on an exercise to map sensitive installations that included hotels, malls and crowded markets, and identified 450 such spots nationwide.
The idea was to know the building plan of these places and identify suitable spots to launch commando operations to evacuate hostages and neutralise extremists in case of an ambush or terror strike. The NSG regularly conducts regular exercises at these spots, divided into ‘more sensitive’ and ‘less sensitive’ categories.
The exercise was jointly conducted by the NSG and the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
Even some army-run in sensitive locations are part of the exercise.
The exercise included a threat assessment of the installations and various measures to strengthen security of a particular location such as installing CCTVs or better access control to plug security gaps, sources in the security establishment said. The IB regularly reviews list of sensitive installations.
After the September 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Kenyan capital Nairobi, the NSG spent a considerable amount of time to analyse the attack.
Sources say several big malls across the country were added to the exercise after the Nairobi mall attack as terror outfits are known to copy each other’s successful tactics.