CAPF, Military, Paramilitary; Major difference inbetween them and their working

Many times peoples mix the military with the paramilitary.  They civilian thinks both are same and paramilitary is part of the military. The defense forces have evolved a mechanism that takes care of the families of martyrs. This is not so for the paramilitary forces and there is a stir recently from the families of paramilitary forces to address this issue. there is a lot of differences.

So, what exactly is the difference between the military, paramilitary and the central armed police forces?

Mainly speaking, the defense forces (also called the military) consists of a country’s Army, Navy and Air Force. The central armed police forces or CAPF are BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, and SSB. The paramilitary forces are Coast Guard, Assam Rifles and Special Frontier Force (and other forces like NSG, RR).

Each force is regulated & each service has its own budget. Let’s see each one of them in detail.


A military or defense force is a professional organization formally authorized by the country to use lethal or deadly force and weapons to support the interests of the state. Although it is called defense forces in India. Its actions are both defensive and offensive.

It typically consists of  3 forces – Army, Navy, Air Force.


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Paramilitary Forces

Any force which has officers of the military managing it but it comes under the control of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is a Paramilitary. By definition only the Indian Coast Guard, Assam Rifles and the Special Frontier Forces fall into this.

The Paramilitary forces in India also constitute State Reserve Police Forces. They need special provisions of law to operate in aid of Civil Authorities, similar to the Armed Forces. Since they do not have police powers, they can operate only once the State Government declares an area as disturbed.

Para military forces

Central Armed Police Forces

Central Armed Police Forces police major functions are

  • on the borders to check illegal border crossings, encroachments, smuggling etc (BSF, SSB, ITBP)
  • internal security duties (CRPF)
  • installation security (CISF).

There are total 5 CAPFs in India –

  • Border Security Force,
  • Shashastra Seema Bal,
  • Indo-Tibetian Border Force,
  • Central Reserve Police Force
  • Central Industrial Security Force.


The Coast Guard Ambiguity

Although the coast guard is a paramilitary force and its bills are paid by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Defence manages it.

The reasons for this is that machinery used by the coast guard is much like the machinery used by the Navy and CG needs someone experienced to handle it. Also, the training to the coast guard personnel is imparted by the military institutions like the INA and AFA. This is the reason that a senior naval officer manages the functioning of coast guard and it has the same selection process as that of the military officers.

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