Rashtriya Rifles (RR), the largest counterinsurgency force in the world. To reduce the commitment of Army on internal security duties, the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) has been at the forefront in counter-insurgency (CI) operations. They are anti-terrorist force made up of soldiers deputed from other parts of the Indian Army, who receive special incentives while serving in the Rashtriya Rifles. One half of the RR come from the Indian Army's infantry, and one half from the rest of the Indian Army. The force is deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Regiment has a distinct dress code, akin to a rifle regiment. Its badge depicts two crossed AK-47 rifles with fixed bayonets atop which is the coveted Ashoka Chakra. Beneath, in a banner, is emblazoned the motto of this force - dridhta aur virta. Incidentally, the AK-47 is the main personal weapon of this force.
All individuals, prior to joining their respective units, have to undergo a four-week rigorous pre-induction training at a Corps Battle School. This is followed by two weeks of 'on-the-job' training and a periodic refresher training cadre under sector arrangements.
The reputation of Rashtriya Rifles as a specialised anti-terrorist force has a tremendous impact on the militant's psyche who avoid any kind of direct confrontation with RR troops. Secondly, due to the proactive nature of operations conducted by well-trained and well-equipped troops, militants lost a number of their cadres, arms and equipment which was a grave setback to them. Such pressures against the militants have been continuously maintained by RR troops in a relentless manner. The motivation of all ranks to perform better has it roots in various factors such as a sense of pride to get selected in a special force with a separate identity, dress and organisation. Each individual is given here the opportunity to prove his mettle in operational field.
In 1990, the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) was established with six battalions and two sector headquarters. The Rashtriya Rifles was raised by former chief of Army staff General B C Joshi in 1990 for the exclusive role of fighting insurgency in Kashmir.
In 1993, the Indian army expanded its role in the Kashmir Valley when it deployed the Rashtriya Rifles. The 36-battalion formation, a light elite counterinsurgency force, was formed specifically to compensate for weak and untrustworthy local police and increasingly well-armed insurgents in Kashmir.
The force was further expanded in 1994-95. By 1996, as guerrilla problems grew,thousands of regular army units joined the Rashtriya Rifles in the valley, further supplemented by a police counterinsurgency special task force composed principally of non-Muslim personnel not from the local area.
For the creation of this legendary force, many sacrifices have been made by various organisations and individuals. To begin with, Headquarters Counter Insurgency Force, a formation headquarter equivalent to a corps headquarters, was sanctioned by the Government in 1994 for the overall command and control of Rashtriya Rifles. This headquarter was trifurcated later to form two operative force headquarters in J&K and a Rashtriya Rifles Directorate at Army HQ, Delhi.
In April 2001 the Center exclusively earmarked more than Rs 600 crore in order to raise 30 battalions of the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) for combating militancy in Kashmir. These new battalions, comprising men and officers from within the Army, will help the present 30 Rashtriya Rifles battalions perform internal security and anti-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and some other parts of the country. Each battalion having 1,150 men and officers will be controlled by the Army. These battalions will help the Army to withdraw its regular troops from J&K and re-train them to guard borders and fight. The objective is to gradually withdraw regular Army formations from internal security (IS) duties in J&K.
Six Army battalions raised especially for Jammu and Kashmir counter insurgency operations underwent special training, and started deployment in the state by 01 September 2001. With the entire state barring Ladakh under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the Army began deploying additional forces to tighten the security net, with 7,200 soldiers of six newly-raised battalions. The battalions are assigned to the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), but parent Regiments raised them at their respective regimental centres. One of the six battalions was raised in New Delhi (Rajputana Rifles). The Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) RR battalion was raised at Belgaum, the Madras Regiment at Tiruchi, the Assam Regiment RR battalion at Shillong, the Punjab RR at Ramgarh, Grenadiers at Jabalpur and the Dogra Regiment RR battalion at Faizabad. The newly-raised battalions underwent special training at the Army's counter insurgency warfare school near Jammu. The Army had six months to raise and train the soldiers for the highly specialised operations. After that there was a four-week-long capsule course in laying ambushes in hills and mountains, detecting and disarming IEDs, carrying out cordon and search operations and carrying out operations to neutralise terrorists in heavily populated neighbourhoods.
The 59th Rashtriya Rifles Battalion (Assam) was formally raised at Assam Regimental Centre, Shillong in May 2004. This is the third RR battalion of Assam Regiment. Brig WJB Sturgeon, Commandant, 58 Gorkha Training Centre, unfurled the RR flag at a glittering ceremony held at Happy Valley, Shillong. Lt Col Suchindra Kumar has been deputed as the Commanding Officer of the battalion. The newly raised battalion comprises 24 officers, 38 JCOs and 1,141 other ranks posted from various battalions of the Assam Regiment.
The security environment in the state of J&K is dynamic and is reviewed constantly based on threat perceptions.
To reduce the commitment of Army on internal security duties, the Government had given in principle approval in 2000, to raise 30 more Rashtriya Rifles battalions, to bring up the total strength of Rashtriya Rifles troops to five Force Headquarters, 17 Sector Headquarters and 66 Rashtriya Rifles Battalions by the year 2005.
By 2004 Rashtriya Rifles battalions (1 to 57) had been raised and inducted in the Northern Sector. Rashtriya Rifles Battalions (58 to 63) were under raising.
The Rashtriya Rifles comprises 65 battalions.
The efficacy of an RR battalion arises from the fact that unlike conventional Army battalions, it has six rifle companies instead of four they possess and has kept its heavy weapons useless in their sphere of activities back at their bases.
Originally comprising a total of four Counterinsurgency Forces, each responsible for an area of the Kashmir Valley and Jammu, the RR raised a fifth force 'Uniform' in 2003–04
Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) R / Romeo Force – Rajouri and Poonch
Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) D / Delta Force – Doda
Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) V / Victor Force – Anantnag, Pulwama and Badgam
Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) K / Kilo Force – Kupwara, Baramulla and Srinagar
Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) U / Uniform Force – Udhampur and Banihal
The RR was raised as a para-military force and it was envisaged that its personnel, like the Assam Rifles, would consist of regular Army volunteers on deputation, ex-servicemen and lateral inductees from various para-military forces and central police organisations. However, this never happened and the force has consisted only of regular Army officers and Jawans, especially from the various Infantry regiments, like the Rajputana Rifles, Gorkha Regiment, Garhwal Rifles, Maratha Light Infantry, Sikh Light Infantry, and Sikh Regiment. Both officers and soldiers are sent to the RR on deputation for a period of 2–3 years. RR personnel receive 25% more salary than regular Army personnel and additional benefits, thus often making it a coveted deputation.