Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday directed Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Nirmaljeet Singh Kalsi to explore the possibility of “arranging live operational training of Special Operations Group (SOG) commandos in Jammu and Kashmir” to impart them the first-hand experience in combat operations.
Chairing a meeting to review the overall police preparedness to deal with terror related contingencies, CM also gave in-principle approval to merge the 1st Commando Battalion into the SOG. The SOG was set up as an anti-terror force by Punjab with an objective to neutralise the militant threats such as fidayeen attacks, hostage taking and armed infiltration.
Noting that “non-conventional means of warfare by militants and anti-national elements had necessitated the transformation of the state’s counter-terror apparatus”, Chief Minister told the meeting that the role of SOG was critical in the transformed global scenario.
Underlining the importance of continuous training in this scenario, Amarinder also asked the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) to work out the modalities for requesting NSG to train state commandos at regular intervals.
The 1st Commando Battalion comprises 932 men and officers, including 273 combat posts and 318 posts of support staff. A total of 157 commandos were being currently trained at the Commando Training Centre in Patiala by elite trainers from the Indian Army, para special forces, CPOs and NSG inducted into the Punjab Police as a special case.
The merger will place an additional Rs 16.54 crore at the disposal of SOG, which would be utilised for modernisation and upgradation of weapons, besides incentivisation of the specialised force.
The CM also gave nod to a proposal to provide risk allowance to commandos, at the rate of 40 per cent of basic pay, on the lines of other state specialised forces across the country involving a cost of Rs 5.15 crore. Expenditure on equipment, weapons, communication systems and building infrastructure would be done in a phased manner, with Rs 8.66 crore to be spent in the first year.
An official spokesperson said the formal proposal on the decisions would be placed before the Council of Ministers.
Stressing the need to reduce the time lag in procurement of weapons, CM also asked the Additional Director General SOG to adopt the NSG pattern for the procurement of hi-tech weapons and technical equipment from the same buyers once approved by the national security agency.
Observing that serious terror threats have emanated from local as well as cross-border, Pakistan-based militant outfits, the chief minister said the border state’s vulnerability has become more pronounced in recent times. Punjab shares an international border of 553 km with Pakistan.