Special forces school shift

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  • Published 5.08.10

New Delhi, Aug. 4: The army-run Special Forces Training School (SFTS) in Himachal Pradesh will be shifted to Chhattisgarh by the year-end, bringing the military closer to the expanding theatre of Maoists and providing training access to paramilitary forces.

The school, located in Nahan, will be moved to Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, The Telegraph has learnt, giving the “centrality” that the special forces need to send out troops to places across India when required.

The argument is that the school is being shifted to central India to accommodate the six C-130J Hercules aircraft, one of the largest supply planes the Indian military will have in its kitty. The defence ministry has attributed the move to “paucity of space”.

However, sources conceded that the spread of the Maoists was a key reason.

“There is a move for establishing schools for training security forces deployed in Naxalite-affected areas and these will be manned by military officers,” a source said. “Different Para (commando) battalions will be deployed there on rotation,” he added.

The Hercules aircraft can carry up to 40 tonnes of supplies and are an addition to the existing IL-76 and AN-32 supply aircraft the Indian Air Force possesses.

The training facility is in addition to the already existing school of counter-insurgency and jungle warfare at Kanker and three other centres approved for Chhattisgarh recently.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after a meeting with the chief ministers of seven states, had approved the idea for 20 counter-insurgency training schools in Maoist-affected states.

Involving the military in vital operations against the Maoists was struck down under popular pressure but the government has maintained it will use the services of the army and the air force in training and evacuation.

With the special forces available in the vicinity, the CRPF and state police in the seven contiguously located Maoist-affected states are expected to be asked to make use of the facilities and refresher courses.

Lack of professional training is seen as one of the biggest handicaps of the security forces deployed against the Maoists in hostile terrain. The worst affected are the ill-trained and poorly staffed state security forces.

States are expected to recruit up to 100,000 personnel in the next year, mainly on account of the challenge from the Maoists, which will step up the demand for training.

Over the next five years, 29 battalions of the CRPF will also be raised, another source of demand for commando training. Training will include steps to develop physical skills, interrogation techniques and para-jumping, the sources said.