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National Security Guard personnel are sometimes referred to as The Black Cats.
The National Security Guard states its mission as:
"Train, equip and keep in readiness a special force capable of swiftly and effectively combating terrorism to live up to its motto Sarvatra Sarvottam Suraksha"
The NSG is a 'Federal Contingency Deployment Force' to tackle all facets of terrorism in the country. As a specialised counter-terrorism force, it is intended to be used "only in exceptional situations" and is not meant to take over the "functions of the State Police Forces or other Para Military Forces". Yet, over the years its role was expanded to provide personal security to influential politicians quite independent of the real threat that they face.
However, in January 2020, the NSG was withdrawn from this task of VIP security to ensure its focus on its original roles as an elite counter-terrorism and anti-hijacking force.
The NSG is trained to conduct counter-terrorist tasks to including counter hijacking tasks on the land, sea, and air; Bomb disposal (search, detection, and neutralization of IEDs); PBI (Post Blast Investigation) and Hostage Rescue missions.
The head of NSG, designated as Director General (DG), is selected by the MHA-Home Minister. Since its founding in 1984, the NSG has had 28 DGs, in 31 years, with an average tenure one year and few months.
At Mehram Nagar, Palam Administration The Director-General is assisted by four Indian Police Service officers for administrative matters of whom two are Inspectors General each for Administration and Headquarters (HQ) who in turn are assisted by Deputy Inspectors General. The Financial Advisor of the NSG has been an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer of the rank of Joint Secretary and also has Dy Advisors from the Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Indian Civil Account Service and Indian Defence Account Service.
At Manesar, Operation and training: A Major General of the Indian Army, on deputation, designated as Inspector General (operations), is responsible for the planning and conduct of operations. Training is under another Inspector General(Training), located in Manesar, Gurgaon. They are further assisted by two DIGs - DIG (Operations) and DIG (Training). The strength of the NSG is estimated to be about 7000+ personnel. Air transport to support NSG is located at Indira Gandhi Airport.
Special Action Group (SAG)
There are 2 Special Action Groups - 51 and 52 SAGs. Both along with 11 SRG constitute the counter terrorist force (CTF) which is the counter terrorist arm of NSG. 51 SAG along with 11 SRG are tasked for counter terrorist and counter insurgency operations while 52 SAG deal with anti hi-Jack operations SAG members are drawn from the Indian Army.
Special Ranger Group (SRG)
There are 3 Special Ranger Group (SRG) - 11,12 and 13. Out of the three,1 I.e. 11 SRG is under counter terrorist force (CTF) and is used purely for counter terrorist operations along with 51 SAG. The other 2 i.e. 12 and 13 SRG are under close protection force and provide special security service for India's most high-profile targets e.g. The defence minister.
SRG members are drawn both from the border guarding forces i.e. BSF, ITBP and SSB and Internal Security Forces I.e. CRPF, CISF and Assam Rifles.
Special Composite Group (SCG)
NSG has set five regional hubs under regional deployment. SCG consists of personnel both from Army and CAPFs for counter-terror operations within their area of responsibility. Each SCG is headed by an officer of Rank colonel of the Indian Army on deputation as Group Commander. Five regional hubs are
The National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC) established in the year 1988 & further its role redefined in the year 2000. NBDC was assigned the role of monitoring, recording and analyzing all bombing incidents in the country. It also records and analyses various bombing incidents across the world to gain expertise knowledge in Bombing and related incidents and effectively counter such and share with relevant security agencies. All national security agencies which rely on NBDC for assistance in bombing incidents and related knowledge have high regard for its working culture. At present NBDC act as a nodal agency for all bombing related facets in the country. It is headed by a Group Commander who can be both from Army or para military force. The current GC is from CRPF.
NSG hub is a regional hub of National Security Guard complex and commando training located near Hyderabad, Telangana, India. With the ministry of home affairs (MHA) giving its nod and sanctioning (equivalent to INR6.0 billion or US$85 million in 2019) in 2017, the National Security Guard (NSG) officials geared up to establish the Southern Regional Center (SRC) at Ibrahimpatnam, Hyderabad for training commandos. It will be home to 300 black cat commandoes, is tasked with tackling any terror threat in the four states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The hub land area is 81 hectares (200 acres) and constructed at a cost of (US$22 million).
The Hyderabad hub of 28 Special Composite Group (SCG) of the NSG is among the four regional hubs in the country. By 2018, 300 commandos were stationed at the NSG hub at Trimulgherry.
The state has two trained anti-terror striking forces, besides the NSG, the Telangana Police's counter-terrorist group, the OCTOPUS, also has a training facility in the same neighbourhood at Ibrahimpatnam, that has a strength of over 250 personnel.
NSG and OCTOPUS personnel, who undergo a gruelling training, including handling sophisticated weapons, commandos are sent back to their parent department once they attain the age of 35, ensuring that the force remains young and fighting fit.
As of 2013, the proposal to set up a state-of-the-art NSG training centre at Ibrahimpatnam on the lines of NSG Manesar training centre had been pending for over three years. But the MHA officials, in their annual report released recently, announced the release of funds for developing infrastructure. "Post the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike, four regional hubs of NSG were operationalised in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata to reduce reaction time. A regional centre at Hyderabad is also being raised, for which 240 hectares (600 acres) of land has been acquired. MHA has conveyed sanction of (US$75 million) towards the construction of this Southern Regional Centre, NSG at Ibrahimpatnam," the MHA report said.
Hyderabad would have an NSG hub at Trimulgherry as well as the SRC for training 'Black Cats'. As of now, nearly 300 commandos, ready for anti-terror operations round-the-clock, are stationed at the NSG hub at Trimulgherry.
On 1 March 2020, the 29 Special Composite Group complex was inaugurated by the then Home Minister Amit Shah at Rajarhat, West Bengal.
(viii) Assistant Commander Grade I. (Subedar Major)
(ix) Assistant Commander Grade II. (Subedar)
(x) Assistant Commander Grade III. (Naib Subedar)
Persons other than officers and Assistant Commanders-
(xi) Ranger Grade I.
(xii) Ranger Grade II.
(xiii) Combatised tradesmen.
The NSG was established in the wake of 1984 Operation Blue Star, and the high collateral damage to Golden Temple, and civilian and military collateral casualties. Since its founding the NSG has been used in the Punjab in 1986, and Jammu and Kashmir. Some of the NSG's known operations include:
29-30 April 1986: About 300 NSG commandos and 700 Border Security Force troops stormed the Golden Temple in Operation Black Thunder I. The Temple was cleared and handed over to Punjab Police on 1 May 1986. 300 Sikh militants were captured, and there were no deaths or injuries for either side.
January 1988: The NSG conducted Op Black Hawk, a heliborne operation in the Mand area of Punjab. In this operation two terrorists were killed and one 7.62mm rifle was recovered. It was a massive operation, says former NSG Director-General Ved Marwah, though it did not get many spectacular results like in Black Thunder.
12 May 1988: 1,000 NSG commandos (all ranks) surrounded the Golden Temple for yet another assault, in Operation Black Thunder II. Sniper teams armed with Heckler & Koch PSG-1 rifles with night scope took up positions, including atop a 300-foot water tower. While commandos from the 51 SAG divided into assault squadrons, the SRG was used to seal off the area around the temple and for tactical support. In the three-day operation between 15-18 May 1988, the NSG cleared the temple. 40 terrorists were killed, and 200 surrendered. In the mid-1990s, a NSG battalion was again deployed in Punjab to confront the Sikh rioters. There they began training the Punjab Police in counter-terrorism.
5 September - 15 January 1988: Guarding of high-risk terrorist code-named 'Jack'.
4 August 1989: Operation Mouse Trap in the Tarn Taran district of Punjab, in conjunction with Punjab Police and other security forces. NSG was able to demonstrate that it was possible to achieve area dominance at night, if the strategy and tactics were right. Ved Marwah calls this Operation Night Dominance.
10 November 1990: NSG task force flown to Kolkata to rescue hostages of a Thai airbus by Burmese students.
25-26 January 1991: The NSG was involved in Operation Ani Ben, on CI tasks in Baroda, (Gujarat) where Punjab terrorists were holed up inside a house. Two terrorists were killed and two AK-47s were recovered.
1 July-20 September 1991: NSG employed along with SIT in search and strike missions after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
25 November - 16 December 1992: 150 commandos were deployed at Ayodhya during the Ram Janambhoomi and Babri Masjid crisis.
27 March 1993: 52 SAG mobilised and moved to Adampur for rescue of hostages of Indian Airlines Flight IC 486.
24-25 April 1993: NSG Commandos stormed a hijacked Indian Airlines Boeing 737 with 141 passengers on board at Amritsar airport during Operation Ashwamedh. Two hijackers, including their leader, Mohammed Yousuf Shah, were killed and one was disarmed before any hostages were harmed.
October 1998: As part of the implementation of the Union Home Ministry's decision to conduct pro-active strikes against militants, commando teams supported by IAF Mi-25/35 helicopter gun-ships began striking at terrorist groups deep inside the mountains and forests of Kashmir. After helicopter reconnaissance was conducted to pinpoint the militants, the commandos - comprising NSG and Rashtriya Rifles personnel - were para-dropped, along with supplies, into the area to hunt the militants. They had to rely on these supplies and their ability to live off the land until replenishment every fortnight or so. These missions are possibly ongoing.
15 July 1999: NSG commandos ended a 30-hour standoff by killing 2 terrorists and rescuing all 12 hostages unharmed in J&K. The terrorists had attacked a BSF campus near Srinagar, killed 3 officers and the wife of another. The 12 hostages were kept locked in a room.
21 August 1999: After interrogating three captured terrorists, the Delhi Police Crime branch confirmed that two more terrorists were hiding in a one-storied house in Rudrapur, Uttar Pradesh. Since the terrorists were considered armed and dangerous (their colleagues were arrested with 100+ pounds of RDX), the Delhi Police sought assistance from the NSG. A 16-man team arrived at the house at 4:45 am They began their assault at 5:30 am, before first light. The first militant managed to fire at the commandos with a pistol he kept by his bedside, but was killed an instant later. The second terrorist was shot before he had a chance to fire and died 40 minutes later. No NSG personnel were injured.
December 1999: Terrorists hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC814 from Nepal, and landed in Amritsar, Punjab. Within minutes of landing, the Crisis Management Group (CMG), which authorised the use of the NSG, was informed. But the CMG wasted precious hours and by the time the go-ahead was issued, it was too late. On the other hand, the NSG team on alert was elsewhere and no other team was raised during the delay. The hijacked plane took off before the NSG reached Amritsar Airport. The plane landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan where one hostage was killed. Finally, the Indian Government agreed to the terrorists' demands to release three jailed terrorists. The hostages were released and the terrorists escaped to Pakistan.
February 2000: Following the Flight IC 814 fiasco, the Indian Government decided to implement an Air Marshal programme. At least two NSG operators were to be present on flights over select routes. These operators would be armed with weapons firing lethal, but low-velocity, fragmentation rounds to minimize danger to the passengers and prevent penetration of the aircraft. Another decision taken was to deploy NSG teams permanently at eight sensitive airports around the country, especially those bordering Pakistan and the North East. This decision was to cut short reaction times for the NSG and eliminate hassles involved in flying the teams to the hijack site. It is not known if this plan has been put into action.
September 2002 - SAG commandos flew to the Karnataka state in India, to catch sandalwood smuggler and forest brigand Veerappan, in the wake of the kidnapping of a former minister of the state cabinet, Nagappa. They pulled out after suggesting that intelligence for the operation was inadequate. A small team was left behind to help, the hostage was eventually killed in December 2002.
October 2002 - Two terrorists attacked the Akshardham temple complex in Gujarat. NSG flew in, delayed by traffic in Delhi. They carried out assaults in which one commando was killed and another one was seriously injured and died after 18 months in a coma. By morning the two terrorists were neutralised and the operation completed successfully.
December 2002 - Terrorists attacked the Raghunath temple in Jammu. NSG was ready to be flown out but was called back at the last minute.
2013 Patna bombings - A team of the NSG, which was sent to Patna for post-blasts analysis, said at least three more Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were defused.
2016 Pathankot attack - An NSG team took part in the operation to neutralize terrorists where Lt. Col. Niranjan lost his life defusing a grenade or IED booby-trapped on the body of a dead terrorist, and 12 other members of the unit were injured. Six terrorists were neutralised in the operation by the NSG, Defence Security Corps and the Garud Commando Force
Selection and training
Selection is demanding and has a drop out rate of about 70-80 per cent. Three of their 14 months of training in Manesar, Haryana, are devoted to the basics. Physical fitness training has 26 elements, ranging from a cross-country obstacle course to jumping from heights and across divides and scaling different kinds of terrain. One endurance test involves martial arts, target shooting at the end of an obstacle-ridden cross-country run. This is meant to gauge the candidate's performance under conditions of stress and exhaustion. Those who successfully complete the tests are sent for nine months of advanced training.
Before being inducted into the NSG, aspirants also have to undergo a rigorous psychological test.
After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the NSG decided to have a joint exercise with the German GSG 9. In November 2009, a team from NSG visited the GSG 9 headquarters. Joint training exercises between GSG 9 and NSG were subsequently conducted in Manesar.
The National Security Guard utilizes the following equipment:
^Sengupta, Somini; Bradsher, Keith (28 November 2008). "Mumbai Terrorist Siege Over, India Says". The New York Times. ISSN0362-4331. Retrieved 2020. ...the siege appeared finally to have ended, J. K. Dutt, director general of the National Security Guard, an elite commando force, said...
^"NATIONAL SECURITY GUARD's RAISING DAY-2019"(PDF). National Security Guard (press release). Archived from the original(PDF) on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 2020. "The Black Cats" presented a thrilling demonstration on various operational capabilities...Home Minister and Guests highly commended the operational and training capabilities of "The Black Cats".