Washington has agreed to throw open its specialised agencies for advanced training in a range of skills

Three months after the U.S.-India Homeland Security Dialogue in Washington, India is all set to send its officers to various agencies across American federal organisations to sharpen their skills and acquire new ones to fight terrorism.

Indian officials and security officers would soon be visiting the U.S. for training in an array of courses — from cyber security, megacity policing and forensics, to critical infrastructure protection, financial terrorism and anti-terrorism intelligence.

The U.S. government has agreed to give Indian officers access to its specialised agencies under the Department of Homeland Security, particularly the Georgia-headquartered Federal Law Enforcement Training Centres (FLETC), to help them deal with the changing face of international terrorism.

“The dialogue between Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in Washington in May this year paved the way for this cooperation... Through these specialised training programmes, India will gradually build an army of experts who can handle new technologies and mechanism to deal with various kinds of terrorism and anti-national activities,” a senior Home Ministry official told The Hindu.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, created after the 9/11 terror attack, along with the FLETC has fashioned several advanced courses. “We have identified around a dozen departments and organisations whose officials would take part in these programmes... The U.S. has also agreed to help us in creating specialised training institutions to develop skills in various anti-terrorism measures. Sharing of technology for technical surveillance, capacity building and technology development will also be a part of the U.S.-India cooperation,” the official said.

Broadly, the U.S. programmes will deal with four aspects of terrorism — ‘Global supply chain, transportation, port, border and maritime security,’ ‘Megacity policing and sharing of information among federal, State and local partners,’ ‘Illicit finance, smuggling of cash, financial fraud and counterfeiting,’and ‘Cyber security and critical infrastructure protection.’

Indian officials who will participate in these programmes will be drawn from various law enforcement agencies and government departments, including the National Security Council Secretariat, the National Investigation Agency, the Intelligence Bureau, the National Technical Research Organisation, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the paramilitary and State police forces, the Customs, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the Enforcement Directorate, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Ministry of Telecom and Information Technology, the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.

“The list of training programmes include ‘Land Transportation Anti-terrorism’; ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’; ‘Seaport Security’; ‘International Border Interdiction Training’ and ‘International Sea Interdiction Training’ to check smuggling and trafficking; ‘Handling of equipment for screening men against radiological, chemical and explosive materials’ and ‘Handling of intrusive detection at airports and seaports.’

The NCB and the DRI officials will be trained on detection of narcotic drugs, currency, arms and ammunition and other contraband through canine squads. There is also a plan to set up a Customs Canine Training Academy,” the official said.

Megacity policing

With the growing population in cities and increasing threat perception, the U.S. has also offered India to help develop the concept of megacity policing, a step it has been promoting since the 9/11 attacks.

“An advance course in surveillance, control room design and its operation by various security agencies and police authorities are key elements of this concept. A high-level workshop is being planned for senior police and intelligence officers from both sides in megacity policing. Similarly, various agencies involved in emergency services will also be trained on public safety and crisis management, while specialised Operation Security for Public Safety Agencies Counter Terrorism Training Programme and Critical Incident Response Training Programme jointly by the FLETC and the U.S. Border and Custom Protection are also being planned,” the official said.

Another area of focus would be in cyber security and critical infrastructure protection, where training modules would comprise best practices in cyber security and cyber forensics, advance course in technical surveillance counter measures, control systems security programme for end-to-end network and systems security for servers, routers, switches, transmission and all information and communication technology (ICT) hubs and facilities.

An ambitious collaboration plan for setting up an advance institute for master trainers in the area of encryption/decryption was also in the pipeline. For critical infrastructure protection, the programmes planned are for sectors like ICT; oil and energy; telecom; banking and financial services; civil aviation and transport where technocrats and officials from concerned ministries will be trained.

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