The CRPF is mulling to deploy aged and experienced officers as ‘Ground Commanders’ in conflict zones but this may affect the operational edge of the force, security experts have said.
According to officials of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Force is contemplating to pull out the young Assistant Commandants (ACs) for the Parliament Duty Group and the Second in Command (2IC) or Deputy Commandant level officers be deployed as ‘Ground Commanders’ who will lead operations in conflict zones in the days to come.
The officials said that the ground operations have always been led by the young ACs who are more agile and energetic than their senior 2IC or Deputy Commandants (DCs). In the present hierarchy, an AC becomes DC at the age of 40 to 45. They might be more experienced but their physical agility is less in comparison to the young AC, the officials added.
“If the Force increases the age bar for posting of officers in Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) and other conflict zones it may affect the advantage of the tactical operations. As of now, the operations are led by young ground commanders who have to carry 30 kg loads and sometimes, they have to travel 10 to 15 km for operational purposes,” a retired CRPF Commandant BN Singh said.
He said that as of now the 2IC or Deputy Commandant also participates in operational preparedness but the team is always led by the young Assistant Commandants.
If this development converts into a decision, the young ACs will be posted in the Parliament Duty Group, while the senior officers will be leading as ground commanders in terrorist and Naxalite zones, CRPF officials said.
Reacting to the CRPF’s plan to increase the age limit for operational zones, a former Additional Director General of the Border Security Force, Sanjiv Sood said that deputing aged persons to lead in Naxal and other conflict zones will affect the operational dominance of the forces. “The young officers are best suited for tactical operations, they are always ready to take risks and easily mingle with jawans and motivate them during the operation. The jawans also gel with young officers quickly,” Sood told IANS.
There is always the threat of an attack in terror and Naxal affected areas. IEDs, drone attacks, grenade attacks and ambushes on security forces remain a risk. In such a situation, it will be wrong to increase the age limit of DC/AC for postings in these theatres. Younger officers can do a better job in such areas, he added.
Along with the CRPF, the Border Security Force (BSF) is also deployed in the Naxal and counter terror operations in the country.
On the other hand, a retired Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau, Yashovardhan Azad said that the young officers should also be pulled out from the conflict zone after a stipulated period and must be given a peace posting as it happens in the defence forces.
“If the CRPF is thinking on these lines, they must be considering all aspects before taking a final call. The aged and experienced officers are also needed to execute operations in Naxal or any other conflict zones while the young officers must be pulled out to non-conflict zones for the purpose of giving them a ‘peace posting’,” Azad said.
According to the CRPF officials, the age bar for Special Operational Zone (SOZ) is likely to be fixed at 47 years for Deputy Commandant and 50 years in no-core SOZ areas. The age limit for ACs for posting in SOZ is fixed at 40 years and for Parliament General Duty it will be below 38 years.
According to the officials, there will not be any age limit for getting a posting in intelligence units and general duty.