Volatile operational conditions call for review of recruitment process and training, says senior officer

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has initiated work on developing psychological assessment tests for the selection of officers into the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).

Introduction of psychological tests, in addition to the written exam, physical test and personal interview, will enable CAPFs to recruit officers with the required mental acumen and leadership qualities required to work effectively in tough and stressful conditions, as is being done by the armed forces.

“We are calling separate batches of 10 officers from each CAPF for a week-long workshop to review the functioning and requirements of the respective force, identify individual vulnerabilities and chalk out a blueprint for the assessment modules that meet their functional parameters,” a DRDO scientist said.

CAPFs that directly recruit officers at the Assistant Commandant level fall into two broad categories – border guarding forces that include the Border Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force and the Shashtra Seema Bal, and non-border guarding forces like the Central Reserve Police Force and the Central Industrial Security Force are primarily meant for internal security duties and assisting in maintaining law and order. Assam Rifles has a dual mandate of internal security in the north-east as well as guarding the border with Myanmar.

The project is being undertaken by DRDO’s Defence Institute of Psychological Research. The laboratory has also developed and modified various psychological tests for assessment of armed forces personnel for entry as well as in-service requirements.

Psychological tests for recruitment of officers into the armed forces are meant to assess a candidate’s personality, which includes leadership skills, moral and social traits and the ability to perform under pressure in difficult situations.

“Unlike the armed forces, CAPFs mainly function in a peacetime environment and they have to deal with civilians constantly. Barring deployment in a proxy war situation and counter-terrorist operations in areas like Kashmir and the north-east or Anti-Naxal operations, the requirements of CAPFs are somewhat different from that of the military,” a scientist said.

“Even within CAPFs, the role of border guarding forces is different from law enforcement. While dealing with civilians on our own side, they are also constantly face to face with a trained hostile force and the risks are high. The recent stand-off with China in eastern Ladakh and regular firing and shelling by Pakistan along the border in Jammu and Kashmir are examples,” he added.

According to a senior officer, the volatile operational conditions along the borders and increasing mandate of CAPFs in anti-terrorist operations as well as internal security duties called for a review of the recruitment process and training. “It was sometimes in mid-2021 that the matter was discussed between the Ministry of Home Affairs, Union Public Service Commission and the Department of personnel and Training and it was decided to introduce psychological test for CAPFs on the same lines as the Services Selection Boards (SSB) do it for the armed forces,” he said. “However, it is still to be decided as to who will conduct the tests and at what stage of the recruitment process will these be introduced,” he added.