- India’s task is more complex than most other countries
- Multiple agencies are involved in protecting our borders
- India is working to set up joint theatre commands of tri-services to enhance coordination
75th Independence Day: As India immerses in 'Azadi ka Amrit Mohatsav' celebrations to commemorate the 75 years of independence, let us take a deep dive into how India's fearless warriors, who have fought heroic battles for our motherland, protect our borders.
Border Security Force (BSF)
The 2.65 lakh personnel strong BSF is primarily tasked to guard Indian borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh apart from rendering a variety of duties in the internal security domain. BSF personnel promote a sense of security among the people living in the border areas. Their officers prevent trans-border crimes, unauthorized entry into or exit from the territory of India and prevent smuggling and any other illegal activity.
BSF now has uniform 50 km jurisdiction
In October last year, the central government had extended the jurisdiction of the BSF to give its officers the powers of arrest, search and seizure to the extent of 50 kilometres, instead of earlier 15 km, from the borders inside Indian territories in Punjab, West Bengal, Assam and Tripura.
BSF during wartime
- Protection of vital installations particular air-fields against enemy commandoes/para troopers or raids. The role can be entrusted to the BSF Units which are placed under the Army's operational Control.
- Providing extension to the flanks of main defence line by the holding of strong points in conjunction with other units.
- Performing special tasks connected with intelligence including raids. These are tasks which might be entrusted to BSF Units by the Army in a war situation according to local necessity.
- Maintenance of law and order in enemy territory administrated under the control of Army.
- Guarding of prisoners of war cages.
- Anti - infiltration duties in specified area.
The primary mission of the Indian Army is to ensure national security and national unity.
Defend the nation from external aggression and internal threats
Maintain peace and security within its borders.
The Indian Army is operationally and geographically divided into seven commands, with the basic field formation being a division. Below the division level are permanent regiments that are responsible for their own recruiting and training. The army is an all-volunteer force and comprises more than 80% of the country's active defence personnel. It is the largest standing army in the world, with 1,237,117 active troops and 960,000 reserve troops. The army has embarked on an infantry modernisation program known as Futuristic Infantry Soldier As a System (F-INSAS), and is also upgrading and acquiring new assets for its armoured, artillery, and aviation branches.
Multiple agencies are involved in protecting our borders
India shares land borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, which stretch approximately 15,106 km. We share maritime boundaries with Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Indonesia; we have a 7,683 km coastline and an approximately 2 million sq km exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
India's duty is therefore more difficult than that of most other nations. The fact that several security organisations, including the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) and the Paramilitary Forces (PMF), share responsibility with the army only serves to highlight how complicated the situation is.
The Border Security Force (BSF) patrols the international border with Pakistan and Bangladesh while the army is stationed along the LoC and AGPL. The Assam Rifles and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) have been tasked with protecting the LAC. The borders with Nepal and Bhutan are patrolled by the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). Care for our border with Myanmar is provided by the Assam Rifles. In summary, we have four agencies in addition to the army that watch over the borders with our six neighbours. On the other hand, only the Coast Guard is responsible for policing marine borders.
Criticism over involvement of multiple agencies to guard borders
Many forward positions in Ladkah are guarded by Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). ITBP report to their headquarters in New Delhi and consequently to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and not to the command of the local army unit in the Ladakh area. This hampers better combat cohesion and overall coordination. Countries around the world have raised specialised and dedicated armed bodies for border security based on threat perception and operational preparedness.
India is also working to set up joint theatre commands of tri-services to enhance coordination among the armed forces. The only fully functional theatre command is the Andaman and Nicobar Command set up in 2001 while the Strategic Forces Command, set up in 2003, is an integrated functional command or specified combatant command. Recently constructed integrated functional commands under the Integrated Defence Staff include the Defence Cyber Agency, Defence Space Agency and the Special Operations Division. The Air Defence Command is the first integrated command being undertaken.