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Thursday, 19 March 2015

From Today's Papers s- 19 Mar 2015

At long last there will be CDS
Inder Malhotra
Also the much sought after one rank, one pension
AMIDST a glut of deeply depressing goings-on across the country there is good news to cheer not only the Indian military but also all those concerned about national security. It is now almost certain that there will soon be a Chief of Defence Staff like other established democracies, such as the United States and Britain, have had for ages. Here the very idea has been rejected summarily when presented to successive governments for some reason or the other. It is no secret that in the early years the fear of a military coup played its part in official thinking, especially after 1958 when Gen Ayub Khan took over as Pakistan's first military dictator and his example was followed in Burma (now Myanmar) by Ne Win two years later. This apprehension was unreal in any case. For democracy had taken roots in this country right from the first general election, and leaders of the armed forces were as divided as the Indian polity or Indian society. Indeed, those in the know used to say: “If you lock up the Army Chief, Vice-Chief and commanders of the fighting Army commands in a room they won’t be able to agree even on the time of day”.  Yet the mindset on the subject remained so woolly that even in the mid-nineties an otherwise intelligent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence made the fatuous statement that a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or a CDS was needed only by those countries which had global interests; the Indian military’s role was defending Indian borders and shores, according to him.
It was only after the Kargil war in 1999 that the country woke up to the need for a CDS. The credit for this must go to the Kargil Review Committee, headed by K. Subrahmanyam, India’s pioneering guru in strategy and security. Its other members were eminent journalist George Verghese and Lt-Gen K. K. Hazari (retd). Satish Chandra of the Indian Foreign Service was its member-secretary.  The committee's case for having a CDS, integrating the three services with the Ministry of Defence — at present they are only “attached offices” of the MoD — and making the chiefs of the three services part of the government and not mere commanders of the service to which they belong - was  strong and persuasive. No wonder that a Group of Ministers, headed by L. K. Advani, endorsed it. It seemed that the appointment of the CDS was a done deal. But, at the last minute, the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, held up a decision on this recommendation while approving all others.
Asked privately why he had deferred the most important decision, he gave two reasons. First, there was too much bad blood over the issue, as no fewer than nine Air Chiefs had met him to demand the rejection of the CDS concept. Secondly, Mr Vajpayee said, he had consulted former President R Venkataraman and former Prime Minister P. V.  Narasimha Rao, both of whom had been defence ministers during their political careers. They both had advised him to think the matter through. Atalji assured me, however, he would take a decision, one way or the other, within a year. That, alas, was not to be.
Ten years passed and the UPA-2 government, headed by Manmohan Singh, realised that a comprehensive review of national security was overdue. So it appointed a Task Force, chaired by Naresh Chandra, a former Cabinet Secretary and Ambassador to the US, for this purpose. Judging by the evidence the various ministries and other relevant official entities gave it, the task force concluded that the idea of a CDS would not pass muster even now. Therefore, it suggested a step in the right direction. It recommended that there should be a permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee with a fixed tenure of two years. At present the chairmanship of COSC is rotational and goes to the senior-most serving chief. Consequently, the term of the Chairman is usually short — in one case it was precisely 30 days — and because the Chairman has to run his own service, he has limited time to devote to the task of promoting inter-services coordination and cooperation.
The task force took care to prescribe that the permanent Chairman would leave the operational functions of the three service chiefs well alone and concentrate on the entire spectrum of inter-services matters that include determining the priorities in the acquisition of weapons by the three services. Even more important is the supervision of the Strategic Command. Several former chairmen of the COSC have confessed they seldom had enough time to confer with the head of the Strategic Command. Sadly, the UPA-2 government sat on the task force's report for two years and rejected it just before its inglorious exit.
What an irony it is therefore that in the current discussions on the subject, the civilian bureaucracy of the Defence Ministry, a bane of the national security architecture, is arguing that instead of having a CDS the country should have a permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff. These “abominable no-men” are unlikely to get their way. For, instead of the do-nothing A. K. Antony a very decisive and doer Manohar Parrikar is the Defence Minister. Some of the decisions he has already taken had been hanging fire for close to a decade because to preserve his enviable image for probity, Antony did nothing throughout his eight-year tenure as Raksha Mantri.
For the same reason one can be sanguine about the welcome announcement by the Army Chief, Gen Dalbir Singh, that the “long-pending” one rank, one pension scheme would be implemented by the end of April.  Over long years we have witnessed tragic scenes of gallant ex-servicemen demonstrating at Amar Jyoti at India Gate and then marching to Rashtrapati Bhavan to return their gallantry awards to the President, their Supreme Commander. Let this not be repeated ever again.
Reinvigorating our Intelligence outfits
Lt-Gen Kamal Davar (retd)
India does not display either a security culture or intelligence consciousnessThere are formidable challenges in the domains of land, sea, sky, cyber, nuclear and space that have to be met.
Whenever a nation or any institution of the state gets surprised or is struck by a cataclysmic event like a security calamity or a major breach in its functioning, the most convenient fallout is to apportion blame to an intelligence failure! The real reasons may lie elsewhere --   be it a systemic shortcoming, leadership failure, non-adoption of the Standard Operating Procedures or non-adherence to simple prophylactic measures. 
Intelligence, even in democracies, is hardly ever scrutinised or revisited for the cloak  of traditional secrecy  masks all its strengths and shortcomings. Practitioners of this vocation also, by and large, zealously endeavour to wrap their craft, and by extension their failures, by employing the terms “cannot be disclosed in national interest” or sophisticatedly as “privileged information”.

First line of defence
India is situated astride one of the most violent expanses in the world and myriad threats to its well-being are continually escalating, both in the external and internal dimensions. Thus it is imperative for the nation’s decision-makers to accord the necessary priority to the sharpening of the intelligence organs of the state for intelligence remains the first line of defence. Regrettably, India does not display either a security culture or intelligence consciousness.
 India has been surprised on numerous occasions, notably in 1962, preceding the India-Chinese conflict, then again by Pakistan’s perfidy in Kargil in 1999, by the attack on India’s Parliament in 2001, which nearly led to an Indo-Pak war, the tragic and avoidable assassinations of Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi in 1984 and Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
All these point to the moot question whether India has given adequate importance to this specialised discipline  for effective decision-making and  actions  duly warranted by credible information. 
After the Kargil war and the Pakistan ISI-engineered terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008, there have been some much-desired accretions to and streamlining of our intelligence architecture.
Thanks to the Kargil Review Committee and subsequently the Group of Ministers Committee on Intelligence, the raising of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 2002 to coordinate inter-services intelligence, formerly National Technical Facilities Organisation (NTRO), now re-christened as National Technical Resources Organisation (NTRO) and the National Information Board were raised.

Manpower shortage
After the Mumbai 2008 terror attack, the National Investigation Agency and NATGRID were raised and are performing well. However, the National Counter-Terrorism Centre is still to be established. In addition, our intelligence in Naxal/ Maoist-infested areas remains a cause of concern. 
The shortage of suitable manpower in intelligence outfits needs to be speedily resolved and knee-jerk reactions by milking other intelligence/ police organisations is hardly the permanent answer.
Intelligence being a specialised domain, the government may consider the introduction of a specialised intelligence cadre (both as Grade 1 and 2 services) to staff the civil intelligence agencies, some could find their way to the armed forces intelligence set-ups.
Direct recruitment from technical universities and colleges for manning highly specialised cyber security outfits and the NTRO/ technical outfits of the DIA will be eminently desirable. 

Qualified manpower
It must be appreciated that, like combat capabilities, the requisite levels of intelligence preparedness take long to accomplish. More than technical intelligence (TECHINT), an area where non-state actors, terrorists and money launderers are now getting hyper skilled and highly innovative, the prowess in vital human intelligence capability invariably falls short.
Intelligence agencies, especially in TECHINT, require adequate personnel trained in foreign and indigenous languages. It is perhaps an unknown fact to the public that now over 80 per cent of the intelligence is gathered through “open sources”, meaning the printed and the electronic media, journals, internet, tourists and the like.
Inter-disciplinary experts will also be required to sift and analyse this huge information overload. The prevention and investigation of financial crimes — the backbone of many terror-driven operations — requires specialised and qualified manpower.
Importantly, India has to decide that, on the lines of the US, do we need to have a national coordinator of intelligence or let the present system continue where the Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee(JIC), reports to the National Security Adviser (NSA)?
India’s first NSA, the formidable Brajesh Mishra, in addition to his duties, which also included being the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, was also coordinating all intelligence agencies and was informally referred to as the “Intelligence Czar”!
It would perhaps be appropriate for an appointment of, say a Coordinator National Intelligence (CNI), who could devote his full time to the oversight and coordination of all intelligence agencies, analyse  their inputs with the JIC under him and then put up his integrated assessments to the government through the NSA.

It must be appreciated that intelligence agencies are not the salvation army and need to develop both overt and covert capabilities to carry out their tasks effectively. Thus the nation must accord them the necessary legal sanction, resources and wherewithal.
Importantly, their effectiveness and working can be scrutinised by the government in an institutionalised manner, say every 10 years and corrective measures adopted.  The introduction of, and the degree of parliamentary oversight on, intelligence agencies need a detailed and informed debate.
A nation, which desires to occupy a seat on the global high table, has to have effective, high-performing “eyes and ears” with a long reach, albeit silent, self-sustaining and strong. Indian intelligence confronts formidable challenges in the domains of land, sea, sky, cyber, nuclear and now space. It will be in the nation’s interest to give it the necessary muscle.
The writer raised India’s Defence Intelligence
Agency after the Kargil war
Defence sector opening up to startup technology

PUNE: Conservative and security-sensitive outfits like India's armed forces Defence are opening up to explore startup technology. While Threye, a startup, has partnered with the Indian Air Force to build mobile air combat games to help enlist the youth, Inforich is helping the navy with technical documentation and Mobiliya is collaborating with the army to provide it with tamper-proof secure mobile phones.

"It was a bit of luck as the tender call came at the right time for us," says Si ..

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