NATIONAL

Pranab assures funds for Special Forces modernisation

NEW DELHI, NOV. 29. Assuring adequate funds for the modernisation of the Special Forces (SF), the Defence Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, today outlined the Government's vision for this group of highly-trained men who conduct unconventional warfare, sometimes behind the enemy's lines. Mr. Mukherjee said the Government wanted SF troops for conducting a range of operations in all the three dimensions — land, water and air.

Presently, SFs are in the domain of the Army and are largely deployed in the country for handling tough counter-insurgency assignments.

``Our nation needs SFs, which are not merely better infantry or naval or air units, but are structured comprehensively for as full spectrum capability, trained and ready for victory, or, in other words — a total force of quality officers and soldiers,'' said Mr. Mukherjee inaugurating a seminar on the subject organised by the recently-set up Centre for Law Warfare Studies (CLAWS).

Mr. Mukherjee's backing to the SFs comes at a time when the Army's war doctrine, which has been made public, has predicted short and intense wars in which unconventional and flexible tactics of the SFs would be a major asset.

Country-specific

Mr. Mukherjee, however, made it clear that India would be fashioning a greater role for the SFs in the country-specific context. ``Like any other country, India must decide the right type, quantity and quality of the SF it wants, after conducting an in-depth study relating to the likely threats to the nation, how they are to be tackled, the changing nature of war and conflict, impact of technology, the likely roles for the SF and other operational requirements for them.''

Calling the Indian SFs ``force multipliers'', the Defence Minister said, ``the presence of SF across the border is less likely to be considered a prelude to war by an adversary. As the SFs expand, the specialised troops are likely to be confronted by several challenges. They would have to learn to integrate seamlessly with conventional forces, civil authorities and even international agencies.

Separate doctrine

The Chief of the Army Staff, N. C. Vij, said that following the successful operations carried out by the SFs in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East, the army is drawing up a separate doctrine for them as well as seeking measures to further `jointness' with the other two services. The Army chief said the increase in the SF strength would take place after deliberation on crucial parameters such as organisation, structure, training and equipment. ``We should not take recourse to this unthinkingly. There was a great deal of deliberation before we took this decision. We have a special interest in jointness. Togetherness is not only required but inevitable and will act as a major force-multiplier.''

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