The Army has asked the defence ministry to approve the raising of 370 new platoons (around 18,000 personnel) of the Defence Security Corps (DSC), with better training and weapons like AK-47 assault rifles and light-machine guns, to bolster security around key military establishments and camps around the country.
The move comes in wake of the report submitted by the tri-Service committee, chaired by former Army vice-chief Lt-General Philip Campose (retd), which had punched gaping holes in the security infrastructure of defence installations in the country after an extensive audit last year.
As was first reported by TOI, the government is yet to really begin implementing the wide-ranging recommendations of the Campose committee, submitted in May last year, despite a series of terror attacks on military bases like Pathankot, Uri and Nagrota, among others.
The defence ministry, on its part, says “broad guidelines” based on the Campose committee’s recommendations have been issued to the Army, Navy and IAF headquarters. “The three Services have carried out security audits of their establishments, and steps have been initiated to address any weaknesses,” it adds.
But much more clearly needs to be done. Constituted after the attack on the IAF’s Pathankot base in January last year, the Campose committee’s recommendations ranged from the urgent need to install modern “access-control, perimeter security-cum-intrusion detection systems” and better intelligence response mechanisms to providing new weapons, bullet-proof jackets and night-vision devices to personnel guarding the bases.
The committee had also called for a major revamp of the DSC, which at present consists of over 64,500 jawans re-employed after retirement from the armed forces, with new tasking and recruitment norms, younger age profile and special training, better weapons and equipment.
Agreeing with this, the Army’s proposal calls for equipping each of the 370 new platoons (a full platoon has a junior commissioned officer and 55 other ranks) with at least two light machine guns and a light 2.5-tonne vehicle as well as bullet-proof jackets, bullet-proof headgear and night-vision devices, say MoD sources.
The Army also wants each DSC platoon to have at least four to five AK-47 assault rifles, which are rugged, foolproof and better counter-terror weapons, instead of being saddled with just the glitch-prone 5.56mm INSAS (Indian small arms system) rifles.
“The initial cost for raising the 370 platoons will be around Rs 1.3 crore. There will, of course, be manpower, equipment and other recurring costs later,” said a source.
As of now, the DSC, which was raised as a defence department constabulary in February 1947, is simply not trained and equipped to handle heavily-armed and motivated fidayeen (suicide) terrorists. Incidentally, five of the seven security personnel who bravely laid down their lives to thwart the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase were from the DSC.