Men with a Mission
Despite its success in J&K, RR remains a temporary force
By Pravin Sawhney
With the strength of over 75,000 troops, the Indian Army’s Rashtriya (National) Rifles (RR) is the largest counter-insurgency force in the world. At present, it comprises five Force Headquarters (division-sized), namely Delta (Doda region), Romeo (Rajouri and Poonch region), and Uniform (Udhampur) south of the Pir Panjal range in Jammu division under 16 Corps Headquarters at Nagrota. The remaining two, Kilo (Kupwara region) and Victor (Anantnag, Pulwama and Budgam) in the Valley are under Srinagar-based 15 Corps Headquarters. The Valley-based Force Headquarters were raised in 1995 followed by the Jammu-based headquarters with the Uniform Force Headquarters, the youngest and the smallest, being raised on 15 July 2003. Each Force Headquarters has three Sector Headquarters (brigade-sized) under it, exceptions being ‘Kilo’ which has four Sector Headquarters and ‘Uniform’ only two. There are a total of 63 RR battalions each with 1,147 troops comprising six rifle companies unlike four in a standard Infantry battalion. The infantry component in each RR battalion comprises 60 per cent troops in four rifle companies affiliated to various regiments of the Infantry. Two rifle companies in each RR battalion are from other arms, chosen from the artillery, air defence corps, armour and engineers. The remaining troops comprise task-oriented troops from various services to provide logistics backup to an RR battalion. Since this force in on Counter-Terrorism (CT) operations, it does not have heavy weapons like regular infantry battalion and is without organic artillery. The tenure of troops including officers in RR battalion is between two to three years. Two aspects of RR have transformed this force into what General J.J. Singh calls the ‘Iron Fist’. One, the affiliated infantry regiments responsible for providing their assigned RR battalions ensure that the best boys, equipment and weapon systems go to the RR battalions for CT operations. At stake for them is the honour of their regiment. And two, the modernisation of the infantry battalions under WE-4B have benefited the RR in terms of better firepower, communications and mobility. While the command and control of Force Headquarters is the responsibility of 16 and 15 corps headquarters that have been designated as the operational level for CI operations, the administrative aspects of RR are looked after by the Director General RR based in New Delhi.

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