Not that special | Cover Story | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • Dying to get in
    July 13, 2013
    At its AGM held on June 29, 2008 it was resolved to put a 5-year freeze on membership applications at Bangalore's most coveted club, the…
  • Club hits
    July 13, 2013
    Despite their restrictive membership rules, colonial trappings and archaic dress (and gadget) codes, India's private clubs haven't lost…
  • Finer tastes
    July 13, 2013
    It is the culinary tradition and its grand interiors that Bengal Club is justifiably proud of.
More in this Section
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy
Cover Story

Not that special


The May 2, 2011 US Special Forces raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden has triggered intense activity in the Indian Special Forces (SF) family. Many of these have been formal reviews, while most others informal discussions. There is almost unanimity across the board about one major aspect: though they have some of the finest men in the world, they are not capable of carrying out an Abbottabad-style raid in another country.

"We are not capable for a variety of reasons, " says Lt-Gen R K Nanavatty, a former army officer closely involved with the evolution of Indian SFs. "For any such initiative, political understanding of Special Forces operations is very important. Only then can you decide on the technology, time, training and other aspects of raising and preparing SFs for such strategic moves. "
A retired SF officer agrees with Nanavatty to say that the Indian political hierarchy has very poor understanding of the value of SF operations. "Special operations (by India) today are controlled by people who do not understand them, " the officer says. "We don't have a national security strategy under which the place and importance of SFs are defined, " he adds.

Nanavatty goes to the extent of saying that Indian SFs have not carried out a single operation that has met a strategic aim. "We have got very good operatives but everything else is missing, " says the retired SF officer. The list includes absence of a dedicated aviation wing for most SFs and lack of technology upgrades.

While there is need for better political understanding of SF ops, which cripples the units and stops them from reaching full potential, the fighting forces are themselves in a growth phase that most observers are unhappy about.

The post-26 /11 expansion of NSG, with hubs in major metros, has not impressed many within the ranks and outside. Insiders are increasingly complaining about "HR issues" that have cropped up because of poor leadership. A few weeks ago in Mumbai, a frustrated NSG soldier fired in the air, but the incident was suppressed. Sources attribute the incident to "poor manmanagement" in the hub.

The NSG expansion has also been adversely affected by the army's refusal to give an adequate number of officers on deputation. This has obviously led to a shortage of officers in the NSG. In fact, many officials have now begun arguing against deputation of personnel to NSG at such frequent intervals. "Let people volunteer for the force, and if they are doing well let them continue for longer periods instead of compulsory shuntouts, " says a former NSG officer. Each of the eight SF units is believed to be suffering from a shortage of about 80 to 90 personnel.

The lack of a cohesive political and military appreciation of SFs and their strategic importance also leads to bizarre decisions. "India is the only country that sends SFs for UN peacekeeping operations, " a serving officer says. He also points out that though India has as many SFs as the US, it doesn't have footprints outside India. This is when the US, UK and other countries have their SFs spread all over the world for intelligence gathering, which is crucial to preparing them for future operations. SF officers and other observers are calling for an integrated Special Forces Command under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister's Office. "Otherwise, we would suffer the ignominy of the kind we saw in 26/11, " says an SF officer. Even as the NSG was waiting for an air force plane to turn up and take them to Mumbai to fight the terrorists, the SF unit of the Special Frontier Force, which had its own aircraft, was sitting idle. "Probably those taking the decision were not aware of it, " says the officer.

Reader's opinion (1)

Devenpanchakoti Jun 8th, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Josy has rightly pointed out the weaknesses of our own special forces & this is further supported by ex-SF officers. the thing is, are our politicians aware of this problem? or will they wake up only with the huge loss in life again...if it ever happens. the movie 'troy' should set an example of SF.

Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik |


itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service