New anti-militant outfit planned
29 April 2001
New Delhi: With the increase of the strength of the Rashtriya Rifles planned over the next five years, a new “force” or a division-strength anti-militancy outfit is likely to be formed in J&K in the near future. At present, there are four such forces – Victor, Kilo, Romeo and Delta – in the Valley, Kupwara, Rajouri and Doda – and the fifth could be be headquartered in the Riyasi region. The force, still unnamed, could relieve a regular Army division that is posted there and that could be pulled back to its original position so that it can leave aside anti-militancy operations and resume training for conventional war. These forces don’t have artillery or other heavy weapons, but have a few more men to have a complement of about 12,000 officers and men. The yet unnamed force will include some of the RR battalions which are going to be raised over the next five years. About 30 are to be raised to relieve the regular Army for fighting militants in the state, increasing the number of RR battalions to 66. Though these battalions comprise Army officers and men, they officially have para-military status so far. Despite the increase in the number of RR battalions, the Army, already heavily deployed in the state, will only get a partial respite. If the state continues to be trouble-prone in the next five years, there may still be about two dozen regular Army battalions helping out the RR battalions. The new RR battalions are expected to take the heat of the regular Army which can move out a major chunk of its forces for retraining, refitting and redeployment. One division moved into the state, just after the Kargil war, would be moved out as another division would now be placed in the Riyasi region as well as a large number of floating brigades. The other problem likely to occur when more battalions are raised will be the shortage of young officers for them. As it is, there is a shortage of 13,000 officers almost entirely at the junior levels of lieutenant, captain and major.