| Gearing up: An army rescue operation in progress
New Delhi, Aug. 2: The army has set up special teams designed to respond to nuclear attacks both in border areas and in the capital, the defence ministry has said in response to queries from a standing committee of Parliament.
The announcement comes in the week that national security adviser M.K. Narayanan said there was a threat perception from terrorist outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba that are suspected to be planning attacks on nuclear installations.
A special Quick Reaction Medical Team (QRMT) has been set up for Delhi. Although the report does not explicitly state the level of threat to the capital, it is understood to be high. The nuclear installation closest to the capital is the Narora atomic power plant. The threat perception for Delhi has been drawn up based on two scenarios — an attack with a deliverable NBC (nuclear-biological chemical) weapon (from air or land) or an attack on a nuclear installation that can irradiate the capital, a defence ministry source explained.
In its report presented to Parliament today, the standing committee, to review medical services and education in the defence services, recorded that the government has said that “protocols have been evolved for prompt and effective NBC casualty management”. A special quick reaction team has been raised in each command (the army has six commands) and an additional one for the capital.
The panel in its report said “that due to changing security environment, the threat of non-conventional, i.e. nuclear, biological and chemical war, has increased. The country, therefore, should be well prepared to meet any eventuality in case of such attack”. It said the armed forces’ medical services “should relook into our special preparedness and take all steps”.
The ministry told the committee that troops in forward areas are equipped with individual protective wear and equipment. Some units have been “trained in mitigation techniques, decontamination drills and NBC operation bricks and platoon bricks have been designed and issued”.
The equipping of troops in forward areas with NBC protection gear flows from a scenario in which an adversary uses a tactical (less than 1 kiloton) weapon in a war situation. For the last four years, the army has been carrying out regular exercises for special battalions with NBC protective gear.
The ministry said the Armed Forces Institute of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection has been set up in Delhi. The institute has been asked to train all personnel of the air force. It has also been told to train medical officers and paramedical staff on treatment of NBC casualties.