August 2003 News

Army may be de-linked from counter-insurgency task by 2008

3 August 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Government has initiated a comprehensive action plan to delink army from counter insurgency operations by year 2008 by bolstering Rashtriya Rifles, Territorial Army and Para Military forces. Under the plan, Government is raising another counter insurgency force headquarters of Rashtriya Rifles to add to four other such force headquarters already operational in Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said here. Officials said six more battalions of Rashtriya Rifles were being raised during the current financial year and 12 more during the next two financial years to raise the Rashtriya Rifles strength from the present 12 to 30 battalions by year 2006. 'These upposed to relieve the regular Army units of their current task in counter insurgency and internal security duties', officials said. They said that the fifth counter insurgency force would be headquartered near Mahore in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir which has recently seen a spurt in minorities’ killings mostly by Pakistani mercenaries. Rashtriya Rifles at present has four force headquarters two each in Jammu region and Kashmir valley. While its Kilo force is operational in border district of Kupwara, Victor force in Verinag areas, the Delta force is based in Doda and Romeo force in Rajouri district of Jammu region. The Government has also initiated action to raise seven more battalions of Territorial Army on a ‘home and hearth’ basis for Jammu and Kashmir and a recruitment drive for it has been launched. The move by the Defence Ministry comes in the wake of criticism by defence experts of keeping regular Army units on a prolonged counter insurgency deployment which has affected their upgradation as well as modernisation. Officials lamented that due to prevailing security situation and ongoing proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir 'very little reduction in the commitment of regular Army in counter insurgency had been possible' although they said efforts were on to effect a reduction. Besides, raising of fresh dedicated Rashtriya Rifles and Territorial Army units, Government has earmarked greater funds for arming these new units with modern weapons and firepower to give them the edge in counter insurgency flushing out operations. However, the Government has made it clear that Army would continue to be deployed both on the international border as well as Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, Jammu and Kashmir, the Government plans to raise 15 more additional battalions of Assam Rifles, out of which six have already been raised and are now operational. Officials said with these new raisings Army commitment in the North-East would be reduced considerably. (PTI)


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