August 7, 2022
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Detecting intruders
Border security mechanisms

Today’s threat environment has placed increasing demands on border security agencies to protect the public, secure borders and appropriately respond to situations ranging from preventing unlawful incursions to providing humanitarian assistance.

Throughout the world, border security agencies are deploying systems to enhance their ability to safely secure borders, conduct special operations, facilitate search and rescue missions, and interdict and prevent acts of terrorism, human trafficking and drug smuggling.

Governments of numerous nations make huge investment and provide good support for the border security. Still, border and maritime security continues to present challenges to governments around the world. The proper management of borders presents many challenges and includes coordination and concerted action by administrative, diplomatic, security, intelligence, legal, regulatory and economic agencies of the country to secure the frontiers and sub serve its best interests.

India’s geostrategic location, its relatively sound economic position vis-à-vis its neighbours and its liberal democratic credentials have induced the government to undertake proper management of Indian borders, which is vital to national security. Further difficult terrain along Indian border makes the job more difficult.

India shares its border with seven different countries. Most of these borders are man-made and do not follow any natural barrier. India’s vast coastline and island territories also make it open to attacks and infiltration. In addition, political instability, cultural radicalism and patronage of mafia and terrorism in few of the neighbouring countries make border management an important aspect to guard India’s sovereignty.

Hostile borders

The India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders are considered as the most dangerous. These volatile borders are prone to a number of security threats, such as infiltration and exfiltration of armed militants, movements of non-state actors, narcotics and armed smugglers, illegal migrants, separatist movements, smuggling of counterfeit Indian currency, etc.

In the recent past few cross border tunnels have been detected in the forest area of Jammu and Kashmir, reportedly designed to facilitate the easy infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan into India.

Besides tunnels, the Jammu sector has also witnessed quite a few instances of successful infiltration by terrorists during the past couple of years as a prelude to attacks on strategic installations -prominent among these being the Pathankot and Uri terrorist attacks. These incidents have not only raised serious concerns about the efficacy of the existing border security system in thwarting such breaches but also a consequent demand for the deployment of high-tech border surveillance equipment.

India plans tech-backed border fencing to prevent infiltration and boost security along its border.

The home ministry will use radar, sonar, laser and drones to monitor India’s international borders with Pakistan, China and Myanmar.

Under Operation Chakravyuh, a network of highly sensitive equipment will be laid along the India-Pakistan border, which will be linked to a control room. The government has decided to install underwater and underground sensor systems to check infiltration.

The technology to be integrated includes automated guns, radars with 360-degree detection capability, and versatile airborne micro-aerostat balloons fitted with high-quality surveillance cameras along the border.

In 2016, the Indian government sanctioned floodlights along the international border in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, and decided to deploy laser fencing at the 45 vulnerable spots along the Indo-Pak border in Punjab and the Jammu and Kashmir region.

Last year, eight infrared and laser intrusion detection systems started functioning along the international border in Punjab.

New technology

India’s new Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) is an attempt to stop cross-border infiltration. The CIBMS is touted as a more robust and integrated system that is capable of addressing the gaps in the present system of border security by seamlessly integrating human resources, weapons, and high-tech surveillance equipment.

It will use all possible technologies available-radar, sonar, laser and drones—to monitor movements and sounds along the international border.

While it will employ all land, water and space technologies available in India, the ministry states that its ultimate aim is to reduce the number of people patrolling the border. Instead, the fencing would be routed through a CCTV network, the control room for which will be 2-3 km inland and it will be monitored at all hours. When the need arises, then the men will be deployed.

As the terrain is very different in areas such as Jaisalmer, Punjab and along the Indo-Bangladesh border, this technology will be such that the fencing and the scanning will be modified according to the topography of the region.

The purpose of the CIBMS is to eventually replace manual surveillance/patrolling of the international borders by electronic surveillance and organising the BSF personnel into quick reaction teams to enhance their detection and interception capabilities. Other factors such as power back up, training of the BSF personnel in handling the sophisticated equipment, and maintenance of the equipment are incorporated into the CIBMS project.

One of the important components of the CIBMS is the use of satellite imagery, which helps security forces analyze the terrain and fortifications along the border. It also helps in planning operations and in infrastructure development.

Through CIBMS the security of the two sensitive and most complex-terrain borders will shift from patrolling by regular troops to a quick response-team mechanism which strikes when the control room detects an infiltration attempt. India will have a patrol-free, multi-layered smart fence along its borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh by the end of 2017.
Indian Border Security Force (BSF) has also bought a 21-km border fence from Israel.

Israel’s expertise in border security is world-renowned. Israeli companies offer sophisticated electronic and virtual fences, with video motion detection capabilities; electro-optical-based surveillance; autonomous unmanned aerial, ground and maritime patrol vehicles; advanced tracking and screening of people, vehicles and cargo; advanced thermal imagers; long-range radars; as well as underground sensors to detect tunnels.

To safeguard against terrorism and illegal immigration, Israel has built effective barriers along its borders with Egypt, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

These Israeli companies are known for their C4ISR, advanced electro-optics and SIGINT systems. Their systems are made to work in hard weather conditions and difficult terrain.

India has taken some good steps to secure the borders and to build infrastructure in the border areas. In India-Israel cooperation, border management is one of the crucial elements. India needs advanced border security mechanisms. The experience of managing complex borders and technological capabilities makes Israel a perfect partner for India’s Smart Border Management initiatives.

The use of high-tech equipment as an integrated instrument for border security has been experimented in various countries. Many, including the United States, have tried high-tech solutions for securing their borders, but with mixed results.

Over the years, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has used a series of strategies, some more effective than others, to monitor huge swaths of rugged terrain along the border.

The Integrated Fixed Towers (IFT) is only the latest of the government's attempts to cover the southwestern border with sensors capable of detecting unlawful crossings. The previous setup, known as SBInet, was a network of newly designed radar, cameras, and heat and motion detectors, which was supposed to allow border-patrol agents to work from a common operational picture. The IFT is only one part of the border patrol's effort to use technology to enhance security. The Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan, which includes the IFT, also uses remote video surveillance-day and night cameras for cluttered urban environments where radar is not as effective-and truck-mounted mobile sensors that can be moved when needed. Drones have been used to provide a bird's-eye view of vast stretches of border.

As the US continues to increase its security at border crossings, airports and other points of entry, biometrics and border patrol cameras will play an important role. Fingerprints and other direct contact means will become final identifiers of persons.

Advances in infrared sensors and developments in pointing and stabilization technology, as well as integrated controls and displays have led to mature designs being incorporated in civil as well as military surveillance and security systems. Technical challenges arise in applying electro-optical sensor technology to detect, track and identify individuals and to detect contraband and hidden objects; while at the same time providing positive cost benefit metrics for both point protection and area surveillance applications. Specific electro-optical sensor modalities, including visible, near-, mid- and far-infrared as well as ultraviolet may be used individually and in combination to perform specific security applications.
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