Interview with DGAR

By R S Jassal *

* The interviewer is R S Jassal

RSJ 1- Sir, at the outset, I wish to congratulate you on the most coveted award of PVSM conferred on you by the Govt of India on 26 Jan 10. I also thank you to have agreed to spare your valuable time from busy schedule for the interview. No doubt, you are heading the most vibrant, dynamic and magnanimous Force, the oldest PMF of the country and most appropriately your award coincides with the ongoing 175th anniversary celebrations. How do you feel about it ?
Gen KS: It is indeed a matter of pride and honour to have been conferred with the award of PVSM. The declaration of this award with the ongoing 175th Anniversary celebrations of the Assam Rifles have given us one more reason to rejoice and I personally feel it is the recognition of the good work and yeoman service that the Force continues to do.

RSJ 2: A Force heavily decorated with awards, ranging from three Ashok Chakras against eight held by the Indian Army and another Ashok Chakra to Maj D Sreeram Kumar of 39 Assam Rifles this year has added to the tally of the force raising it to four also must have been matter of a great privileged pride for you.
Gen KS: Absolutely, it is a rare honour for the force that one of the serving officer has been bestowed with the highest peace time gallantry award of the country. As you have rightly brought out, the award of four Ashok Chakras to the force as against eight of the Indian Army speaks volumes of the saga of courage and valour displayed by the force.

RSJ 3: What are your KRAs for the Force ? And are they being met to your satisfaction?
Gen KS: The KRAs of the force that I have legislated are as follows:-
(a) High Professional Competence.
(b) No Human Rights violations.
(c) High Standard of Training.
(d) Effective Intelligence Network
(e) Physical and Mental Fitness.
(f) Stress Management.
I am glad to say that the force has worked very hard on these guidelines and tremendous results have been achieved. The operational achievements of the force are exemplary and very high standards of training have been achieved. I am also glad to inform you that Assam Rifles have established it's own ITI, where the training of the technical personnel will be carried out and in course of time will develop in to a regional ITI hub, where training of locals will also be carried out.

RSJ4: Ok Sir, a bit of hard talk. Upto 15 Aug 1947 & even in 1962, the Force had been used as right hand arm of Civil Administration for every eventuality in the unexplored interiors of NE Hills coupled with guarding of international borders and also acting as intelligence and border information base for Indian Army & the Nation. In view of changed scenario, Force generally being withdrawn from IB duties from Arunachal IB with Tibet (China) and its neck deep engagement in CI operations in all states of NE, what are your views on redeployment policy in the border as a whole. Is it not more appropriate to have ITBP (SSB (Khampas) combined for managing Arunachal - Tibet Border than to entrust these to other Force which do not have base there . What are your views in the capacity of DGAR being the permanent Security Advisor to the NEC.
Gen KS : Consequent to the Group of Ministers recommendations in 2001, the Assam Rifles have been nominated as the border guarding force for the Indo- Myanmar border. At present we do not have any of our troops deployed along the Indo- China border. Presently the ITBP is responsible for the Indo- China border along with the Indian Army and this arrangement is quite suitable.

As regards the issue of being the Security Advisor the NEC is concerned, I would say that Assam Rifles has been deployed in the North East for the last 175 years and I can say with a lot of conviction that no one understands North East better than Assam Rifles. The battalions of the force are covering the entire spectrum of the region. They have been here since the inception of the disturbance and insurgency and also deeply involved in the development of the region in the form of civic action projects etc.

Moreover, the issue of curbing insurgency and development are interlinked. So, I feel that in his capacity of the Director General of the Force the DG can do a reasonably OK job as the security advisor to the NEC.

RSJ 5: Are you satisfied with the Assam Rifles contribution in sports in the national arena ? NE has considerable sports potentials & built in capacities, in sports stream like Taekwondo, Archery, Air Gliding Rowing, Football & Body building, Gymnastics and Adventurist sports. Considering the size of the Force so the fact that it and the oldest Para Military Force the results do not appear to be commensurate? Do you have any plans to raise boy's sports companies?
Gen KS: Assam Rifles is performing satisfactorily in some of the sports events like martial arts where we have been winning tournaments at national level, our coach was selected coach of Indian team for commonwealth games and 3 of our players are undergoing coaching camp for commonwealth games. In archery and hand wrestling our sportsmen have represented Indian team, in football we stood 4th in the previous Durand Cup. But yes I agree there is lot of scope for improvement and we are conscious of that fact.

RSJ 6: What are the major achievements and new thrust areas in the administrative field say officering Training & Expansion of the Force?.
Gen KS : In order to meet the ever changing operational requirement, a lot of proposals are under considerations at the Ministry of Home Affairs and we are quite glad that the Hon'ble Home Minister have viewed our proposals quite positively and they will soon be approved.

As regards officers training, we have No of vacancies from the Army and in No of courses our cadre officers as well as JCOs and OR will be undergoing training with their counter parts in Army. As regards expansion of the force is concerned, I am happy to inform you that a Field Intelligence Unit has been raised by Assam Rifles, this will meet the long pending requirement of the force. Also a proposal of raising 26 additional battalions in border guarding role is under consideration with the MHA.

RSJ 7: Considering nature of IB, rugged, treacherous & porous in character, combined with tropical jungles, a strength of 46 Battalions is not sufficient enough to guard the IB & fight Insurgents at the same time, why has the expansion of AR been put on a low priority compared to other PMFs like BSF & CRPF etc ?
Gen KS : No, I do not agree with you that the expansion of the force has been giving low priority as compared to other CPMFs. The MHA has to take a holistic view of the requirement of the different forces which have got a different role and are deployed in completely different terrain.

RSJ 8: What are the major improvements carried out in the Force say medical, education, pay structures & career operatives including ARGIS(ASSAM RIFLES GROUP INSURANCE SCHEME) ?
Gen KS : Ans 8 We are proud to announce that we are probably one the only PMFs who have already implemented the recommendations of 6th CPC in letter & spirit. The entire personnel of the Force are in receipt of both 40% and 60% arrears, barring a few cases.

We at the Assam Rifles strive for better career opportunities for all our deserving ranks. The Departmental Promotion Commettee(DPC) is being held for all cat of personnel across the board for selection as Asst Comdt in the Force. This DPC is being conducted annually. With regard to educational facilities, we have opened 40 children schools in all over NE region and 30 Study Centre of IGNOU for providing higher education and distance learning.

These educational institutes are spread all over the NE states wherein only AR schools are functional, thus providing basic educational facilities to the civilians residing in such remote areas. With regard to the medical facilities, this Force is constantly recruiting new MO and GD MO through. The modernization of composite hospital at Sukhovi is also under progress wherein the state of art eqpt and medical facilities will be provided.

The composite hospital has also been sanctioned additional staff thereby making if more efficient and medical worthy. The Force also regularly conducts medical camps to include blood donation camps and provide medical aid to the civilians in the remote areas of NE thus symbolizing itself as "Friends of the people". There is also a thought for opening up a super specialty hospital particularly for all chronic ailments including cancer and kidney patients.

RSJ 9: In past also many a times Regimentation of AR units with regular army unit, like Gorkhas, Garhwalis, Kumaons, Assam and Dogras etc have been tried but failed. Why not to lower the age of officer in take from ranks and extend their period of academy training from one year to two to bring Officers performance level at par with Army and also to have officers direct entry too as you are aware army Inf Units themselves ARE considerably short of officers will not be able full release of quota for Assam Rifles need may not be coming through as desired and Assam Rifles has to accept officers from other corps too ?
Ans. 9: The Assam Rifles is constantly endeavoring for the overall development of the Force. The Force has projected two proposals to the Ministry namely LDCE (Limited Departmental Committee Entry) and Direct Entry Scheme. This basically aims at lowering the service and age profile of eligible AR personnel to compete the LDCE and thus give these personnel more training period at IMA and thus get them at par with Army officers.

As also a younger profile of AR Cadre Officers will see more enthusiasm and josh and thus more opportunities for moving high in the ranks and profile of the Force. A case for Direct Entry has also been taken akin to the entry of NDA aspirants. These officers once selected will be trained at NDA and IMA on the lines of Army officers and thus will be able to take on responsibilities shoulder to shoulder with Army officers.

RSJ 10: Thank you very much, Sir, for having spared your valuable time. I am sure, this interview once published, will be of great value to the Force and for those who wish to know more about the Force. I also congratulate you and all ranks under your noble & dynamic command on the momentus completion of 175 years of dedicated and selfless service to the nation. You have definitely brought the reputation and recognition of the Force to a new high and as is said sky is the limit for ultimate, so Force under you and your team & subsequent leaders to come will continue adding laurels to its history "Sentinels of the North East."

In the end I would like to close with a plea, Ex-Serviceman need to be attended to with more innovative, plausible befitting welfare measures as they are the most important persons in the NE, as Force multipliers whose age experience, service steadfastness and loyalties can be best utilized in fighting IS-CI Ops. Even appointing of a retired officer as welfare officer-cum-advisor on Ex-servicemen to the DG may be thought of since State level CPO's Welfare Officer cannot meet the requirement in NE as has been experienced.

Thank you very much and wish you best of luck.

* R S Jassal wrote this for The Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition). This article was webcasted on April 09th, 2010.

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