Assam Rifles: A special CAPF


Assam, the northeastern state of India known for its heavenly views, diverse culture &
producing a class of warrior worthy of being called legends. Hailing from the state is India’s oldest & most decorated paramilitary force the Assam Rifles (AR).

The men represent the warrior spirit preserved in the soul of Assam & embody the courage & will of Ahom’s long celebrated legends like Borphukan.

History Of AsSam Rifles


Assam Rifles was raised in 1835 under the name of Cachar levy with an initial strength of 750 men. The main objective of this levy force was to safeguard British interests in northeast India.

The levy force then underwent numerous transformations becoming Assam frontier
police (1883), Assam military police (1891), and eastern Bengal & Assam military police
(1913) finally evolving into Assam Rifles in 1917.

world war 1

With its evolution, it became closely associated with full-time military role providing its
services mainly in World War 1 (Europe & Middle Eastern theatre), World War 2 (Myanmar,
then called Burma front) & supporting Indian armed forces in 1965 & 71 Indo-Pak wars.

women contingent marching

The rich operational history depicts Assam Rifle as more of a military organization rather
than a police force, the organization shows out its courage via military & battle honors
which include 76 Gallantry Awards from WW1, 48 FROM WW2 & 450 gallantry awards post-independence which includes a prestigious lot of Ashok, Vir, Kirti & Shaurya chakras.

Read and get detailed information of India- China clashes.

Present-day structure Of Assam Rifles

soldiers on foot

Today the prime objective of the Assam rifle is to safeguard 1640 km of the Indo-Myanmar border.

The rank structure follows that of a police force whereas the commanding positions
are filled by army officers.


Complementing this, an army officer with the rank of Lt. General takes up the post of director-general of Assam rifles.


The present structure evolved due to the dual control of this organization. The
administrative control of AR lies with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) & its operational
control comes under the Ministry of Defense (MOD).

The dual control structure means that the recruitment, salaries, pensions & employee
benefits are decided to be MHA & the regiment gets its marching orders from MOD.

Furthermore, the operational duties also lie near regular military objectives.


Assam rifles as stated is primarily responsible for protecting international border but Along with border protection roles, the operational objective of Assam rifles include:

army men patrolling
  • Maintaining law & order in the northeast region along with Indian armed forces
  • To provide support in anti-insurgency operations
  • To provide internal security in the northeast region
  • To maintain the provision of aid to civilians during emergencies
  • Assist in medical & educational programs in rural & remote regions
  • Maintain communication & supply lines in case of conflict
Read our blog on Flood crisis in India and why assam floods every years

Disagreement over operational control OF aSSAM rIFLES


In 2013 a proposal was forwarded by MHA to take total control i.e. administrative as well
as operational control under the home ministry due to which Assam rifles would be then
regarded as any other CAPF (central armed police forces).

The proposal was then again raised under the NDA government in 2019. In both instances, the army opposed giving up operational control of the regiment.


Then again another proposal was put forward concerning the merger of Assam rifles with
ITBP (Indo-Tibetan border police) to increase operational effectiveness as a paramilitary


Army on behalf of MOD resists this change via a credible argument that is ‘stop fixing something which isn’t broken’.Up until now, AR worked complimenting the armed forces in the northeast region, freeing up the army’s strength so that army can focus upon its core objectives.

This gave the armed forces enough space to maneuver between roles of border protection, anti-insurgency & internal security

Army also insisted that in time of war, AR is their top choice for guarding the rear bases
when it moves forward into the enemy territory.

Giving AR the status of CAPF will reduce its operational effectiveness & compromise national security via the northeast region by Jeopardizing surveillance along LAC with China.

marching contingent

AR proves this argument for the army as its statistics show that approximately 70-80% of AR personals are deployed in conventional army roles along with this, two-third of its training curriculum is related to conventional warfare thus proving a great asset for the army in times of conflict.

MHA on the other end argues that merging ITBP & AR will increase vigil over the area &
increase the effectiveness of both CAPF’s in contrast to MOD’s view

Should total control be rested under MOD?

As stated, 70-80% of AR’s personals are deployed in conventional military roles which put
AR in much closer proximity with the army rather than to any conventional CAPF’s.

The perks of being associated with the MOD are much better than MHA. Since MOD is solely responsible for national security whereas MHA has to take into account the rest of the national affairs, transferring AR under MOD can prove to be a good decision after all.


The reasons for which will be

  • Army finds itself in favor of getting total control of Assam rifles due to its operational history which links it to proper military objectives rather than civilian ones.
  • Army also relies upon AR for safeguarding its rear bases in case of advancement into enemy territory.
rajnathnath singh inspecting
  • The current structure of AR will allow the army to inherit a stable logistical support network which will reduce challenges when the administrative role is transferred under army or MOD.
  • As more than two-third of AR personal are performing regular military duties without getting proper employee benefits or perks, transferring them solely under MOD will do justice with the fact that they are more of a military regiment than a police force.
  • Army has a much better logistical support network dedicated towards national security & troop support than CAPF’s this will result in improving the operational effectiveness of troops
  • The retirement age currently in AR is 59-60 years which is static whereas in the army it can be as low as 35 years thus flexibility of the job is much greater in the army. Owing to these perks, the morale of troops will also be boosted along with effectiveness.


women marching

The final call will be of the central government, but the army is persistent in maintaining at least operational control over the 63,000 strong force.

Attributing to the rich & gallant history of Assam rifles, its association with the army can be recognized much easily as compared to any other CAPF’s & giving its total control under MOD will sure increase the recognition it deserves due to its history increasing its
effectiveness as a forwardly deployed force.

It can be deduced that a big portion of Assam rifles want to be governed under MOD rules & regulations complementing the army with full-time military duty & doing justice with its
a history filled with stories that inspire the whole nation.


By Guest Author: Amrit Pal Singh

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