Monday, April 12, 2010

Army plans sub-area headquarter in Jagdalpur

Shishir Gupta Posted online: Monday , Apr 12, 2010 at 0236 hrs

New Delhi : The Indian Army’s footprint in the Naxal-infested states of Chhattisgarh and Orissa is all set to increase with an already approved sub-area level headquarter, headed by a Brigadier, coming up shortly at Jagdalpur, another being proposed at Ambarda on the Orissa-West Bengal border and the proposed shifting of the special forces training school from Nahan in Himachal Pradesh to Chakarbhata near Raipur.

Top government sources told The Indian Express that after the Maoist attack on CRPF personnel in Dantewada on April 6, Home Secretary G K Pillai called on Army Chief General V K Singh in South Block and discussed the prospects of synergy between the paramilitary forces and the Army in the fight against the Naxals.

Among the points discussed at the meeting were:

• Paramilitary forces should send homogenous companies of personnel for four-six week induction training with the Army, to infuse camaraderie among the forces. Anti-insurgency operations are group tasks, not individual operations.

• Home and Defence Ministries to sort out the problem of who is going to provide administrative arrangements to the security forces during the induction training. The paramilitary forces say that the Army wants them to make administrative arrangements for trainees.

• Each paramilitary company involved in anti-Naxal duties should identify personnel who could be trained as intelligence scouts so that local intelligence is developed by the forces themselves rather than relying on the state or Intelligence Bureau for every small issue.

• Anti-Naxal operations should be discretely done as there is a serious possibility of sabotage or interception of communication from Maoist sympathisers.

While the government has kept its option open on getting the Army involved in anti-Naxal operations, the military top brass has decided to make its presence felt in the red zone of Central India. The basic idea is to sensitise its own men in the area in case called upon to do the duty.

As a first step, a sub-area level headquarter is going to come up in Jagdalpur in the next six months, while the Orissa government has already offered land for another sub-area headquarter at Ambarda, south of west Midnapore in West Bengal.

However, the most significant development is the proposed shifting of the special forces training school from Nahan to Chakarbhata near Raipur with the Raman Singh government willing to offer nearly 2,700 acres of land with an airport for airborne operations to the Army. The first step in this direction was taken during the visit of then Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor to Chhattisgarh in March 2009.

While the finer details of handing over the airport to the Army are being sorted out between the Defence Ministry and the Civil Aviation Ministry, the Army’s presence will bring not only development but also security to the region apart from on-the-ground training to the paramilitary forces.

— With inputs from Joseph John.

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