The expansion of the National Security Guard (NSG) with the creation of four regional hubs has hit a major roadblock with the Army informing the Defence Ministry that it will be unable to provide additional officers for the force.
Facing an acute shortage of young officers,particularly at the ranks of Captains and Majors who lead soldiers during battle,the Army has told the ministry that it would be unable to spare the 220 officers that are needed for the phase I expansion of the NSG.
The NSGs Special Action Group (SAG),which handles anti-terror operations,is entirely dependent on Army soldiers and officers who are posted on deputation to the Home Ministry.
While the Army has said it will be able to send the 4,070 soldiers or Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR) who are required for the first stage of expansion,it has put its foot down on deputing more officers for the force.
Sources said the Army had made it clear to the Defence Ministry that sending in more officers will adversely affect its war fighting capabilities as it was already short of over 12,000 officers.
While 220 officers and 4,070 soldiers are required for the planned phase I expansion of the NSG,the creation of four regional hubs at Mumbai,Hyderabad,Chennai and Kolkata will require a total of 570 officers and 11,400 soldiers.
It will not be possible to send such a large number of officers on deputation to the Home Ministry. Most combat units posted along the border are already facing an acute shortage of young officers, a senior official said.
At present,the Army already has deputed 140 officers and 4,300 men to the SAG. These officers and men are sent on a two-year deputation to the force and are taken out of regular combat units.
Insiders say it will be easier to manage personnel related problems due to the expansion of the NSG if the organisation is placed under the Army. It may be recalled that the Army had proposed that a three star general should head the NSG rather than the current practice of appointing an IPS officer to the post.
The Army already deputes a bulk of officers and men to the Rashtriya Rifles in Jammu and Kashmir and the Assam Rifles in the Northeast.