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10 more Garud squadrons, electric fences to be put up

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

In the aftermath of the Pathankot terror attack, Indian Air Force plans to raise 10 additional squadrons of Garud commandos, consisting of about 1,000 personnel, to protect its 950 flying and non-flying establishments across the country.

The Force also plans to expedite its planned fortification of 54 main flying bases across the country with better sensors and electrical fencing.

The decisions were taken after the IAF completed security audit of its establishment in the aftermath of the Pathankot terror attack.

Defence sources said the IAF which has about 1,080 Garud commandos at present, will seek permission to raise 10 more squadrons.

When the Garud force was first formed in 2003, the plan was to have about 2,000 personnel.

The sources also said the setting up of electric fences with better sensors will be speeded up.

Electric fences have already been set up at bases in northern areas and as per the plan earlier, Pathankot air base would have been the first in the western sector to get it, sources said.

Top sources in the IAF had said the audit, ordered after the Pathankot airbase attack last month, has identified chinks in the security and measures would be taken to plug them.

Asked if Defence Security Corps, made up of retired soldiers, would be replaced with other security personnel, the sources said Garud commandos are already present at its facilities and, if needed, more will be added.

They had made it clear that the security of bases will

continue to be handled by the DSC personnel and Garud commandos.

The sources said identification of loopholes in security has been completed and the next step will be to test them.

The Garud (special forces of IAF) was formed in 2003 for providing specific in-house role capabilities to IAF.

Garuds are specially trained to be a Quick Reaction Force at important IAF bases, protect IAF's high-value assets, conduct search and rescue during peace and war, and undertake counter-terrorism tasks and special missions.

Garuds have been effectively deployed as part of Indian peacekeeping missions in support of the UN and for evacuation of Indian nationals from war zones.

The Defence Ministry is in the process of setting up a committee to review security at all armed forces facilities in the country based on the "risk factor", besides the audit undertaken by the individual services themselves.

"A specific team is being made. It will visit (the bases) and look into priorities like risk factor, sensitivity and assets. It will also talk to the local commanders," Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said on January 21.

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First Published: Tue, February 02 2016. 20:57 IST