The current strength of the BSF is at about 157 battalions, or 200,000 men.
From independence in 1947 to 1965, India's international boundaries were guarded by the local armed police battalions of every border state, with little interstate coordination.
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 demonstrated the inadequacies of the existing border management system and led to the formation of the Border Security Force as a unified central agency with the specific mandate of guarding India's international boundaries. The BSF's paramilitary capabilities were used in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 against Pakistani forces in areas where the Indian Armed Forces was thinly spread; BSF troops took part in the Battle of Longewala.
Although originally charged with guarding India's external boundaries, the BSF has more recently been given the task of aiding the Indian Army in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations. When the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir broke out in 1989, the Jammu and Kashmir state police and the thinly-deployed Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) struggled to cope with the spiraling violence, and the Indian government deployed the BSF to Jammu and Kashmir to combat Islamic militants.
The BSF suffering casualties from insurgent attacks but later saw successes, including the arrest of militant leaders, after setting up an intelligence network and working with local civilians. The BSF killed Ghazi Baba—second-in-command of Jaish-e-Mohammed and the mastermind of the 2001 Indian Parliament attack—in August 2003. The BSF raided Baba's hideout in Srinagar and he was killed in the ensuing gunbattle.
Despite the BSF's success in a counter-terrorism role, many in the government felt that this additional burden was leading to a dilution of the BSF's mandate and degrading the force's ability to perform its primary role of guarding the country's borders. The Indian government has now decided to implement recommendations to restrict each security agency to its mandate. Thus the 56 BSF battalions in Jammu and Kashmir are gradually being withdrawn from counter-insurgency duties and sent back to guard the borders. They are being replaced by fresh units from the Central Reserve Police Force that have undergone specialized training in counter-terrorism.
The current Director General is Mr.ML Kumawat, an officer of the Indian Police Service, from the Andhra Pradesh state.