PM’s Punjab Security Breach: Lessons For SPG

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News: The Special Protection Group (SPG) has been in news recently due to security lapse in Punjab. The Supreme Court has also set up a five-member panel to probe the security breach.

What is SPG?

The SPG was created in1985 as a specialized armed force of the Union to provide undivided attention to the safety and security of the PM. Its sole mission and responsibility is the protection of the Prime Minister of India.

How SPG is trained?

One, the training regimen’s objective is to create a workforce that is physically tough and mentally alert, mature, confident, and courteous. SPG follows a rare training doctrine combining attention to both strength and brain.

Two, SPG officers are trained to maintain their calmness and composure even in the face of extreme provocations. Hence, training is given to function under extreme conditions of physical and mental stress, playing out mock attacks, responding in split seconds, providing body cover, and defensive driving techniques to escape surprise attacks.

Third, since PMs are highly popular leaders, they are likely to intermingle with the people. Hence, SPG officers have to be sensitive to this sentiment along with the enforcement of security drills.

Why Punjab security lapse needs to be probed?

First, there are times when the PM may be required to undertake an emergency journey or a road journey and helicopter flights are dependent on the vagaries of weather. Also, whenever helicopter journeys are planned, it is mandatory to draw up a contingency plan for a road journey as well.

Therefore, arrangements for emergency road journeys are elaborate and strict. Hence, the state police have no excuses to be negligent while planning for a contingency road journey.

Two, the decision to clear the road journey is jointly taken by all the agencies concerned after analyzing all the risks involved. Hence, a gathering of demonstrators on the VVIP route exposes the gap in route security.

What is the way forward?

First, the reason why the SPG officer on the ground did not use their authority and why the motorcade did not follow standard emergency drills which allowed the VVIP to remain exposed for a relatively long period need to be put in the public domain.

Second, an emergency evacuation should be entirely a professional decision of the SPG and subject to the complete discretion of the SPG officer in charge of the PM’s close protection and no further consultations are mandated.

Third, the need of the hour is to rise above narrow political considerations, show the honesty and courage to learn from mistakes. It is equally important for SPG officers to strengthen their professional independence and the ability to be firm.

Source: This post is based on the article “PM’s Punjab Security Breach: Lessons For SPG” published in Times of India on 29th Jan 2022.

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